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mars jeems's nightmare 64 

the conjurer's revenge io3 

sis' Becky's pickaninny 132 



" The Conjurer's Revenge " is reprinted from The Over' 
land Monthly by permission of the publishers. 







SOME years ago my wife was in poor 
healtii, and our family doctor, in 
whose skill and honesty I had implicit 
confidence, advised a change of climate. 
I shared, from an unprofessional stand- 
point, his opinion that the raw winds, the 
chill rains, and the violent changes of 
temperature that characterized the win- 
ters in the region of the Great Lakes 
tended to aggravate my wife's difficulty, 
and would undoubtedly shorten her life if 
she remained exposed to them. The doc- 
tor's advice was that we seek, not a tem- 
porary place of sojourn, but a permanent 
residence, in a warmer and more equable 
climate. I was engaged at the time in 

The Co7ijure Woman 

grape-culture in northern Ohio, and, as 
I liked the business and had given it 
much study, I decided to look for some 
other locality suitable for carrying it on. 
I thought of sunny France, of sleepy 
Spain, of Southern California, but there 
were objections to them all. It occurred 
to me that I might find what I wanted in 
some one of our own Southern States. 
It was a sufficient time after the war for 
conditions in the South to have become 
somewhat settled ; and I was enough of a 
pioneer to start a new industry, if I could 
not find a place where grape-culture had 
been tried. I wrote to a cousin who had 
gone into the turpentine business in cen- 
tral North Carolina. He assured me, in 
response to my inquiries, that no better 
place could be found in the South than 
the State and neighborhood where he 
lived ; the climate was perfect for health, 
and, in conjunction with the soil, ideal for 
grape-culture ; labor was cheap, and land 

The GoopJiered Grapevine 

could be bought for a mere song. He 
gave us a cordial invitation to come and 
visit him while we looked into the mat- 
ter. We accepted the invitation, and 
after several days of leisurely travel, the 
last hundred miles of which were up a 
river on a sidewheel steamer, we reached 
our destination, a quaint old town, which ^ -/;/ 

I shall call Patesyille, because, for onQy^^^^^^"^ 
reason, that is not its name. There q.:'//]^'^-n.A4i^^ 
was a red brick market-house in the f/^y^^^^^^^^ /k-^ 
public square, with a tall tower, which >- , V /*«*. ^ 
held a four-faced clock that struck the.^""^"^ 
hours, and from which there pealed out 
a curfew at nine o'clock. There were 
two or three hotels, a court-house, a 
jail, stores, offices, and all the appurte- 
nances of a county seat and a com- 
mercial emporium ; for while Patesville 
numbered only four or five thousand 
inhabitants, of all shades of complexion, 
it was one of the principal towns in 
North Carolina, and had a considerable 

The Conjure Woman 

trade in cotton and naval stores. This 
business activity was not immediately 
apparent to my unaccustomed eyes. In- 
deed, when I first saw the town, there 
brooded over it a calm that seemed al- 
most sabbatic in its restfulness, though 
I learned later on that underneath its 
somnolent exterior the deeper currents 
of life — love and hatred, joy and de- 
spair, ambition and avarice, faith and 
friendship — flowed not less steadily 
than in livelier latitudes. 

We found the weather delightful at 
that season, the end of summer, and 
were hospitably entertained. Our host 
was a man of means and evidently re- 
garded our visit as a pleasure, and we 
were therefore correspondingly at our 
ease, and in a position to act with the 
coolness of judgment desirable in mak- 
ing so radical a change in our lives. 
My cousin placed a horse and buggy at 
our disposal, and himself acted as our 

The Goophered Grapevine 5 

guide until I became somewhat familiar 
with the country. 

I found that grape-culture, while it 
had never been carried on to any great 
extent, was not entirely unknown in the 
neighborhood. Several planters there- 
abouts had attempted it on a commer- 
cial scale, in former years, with greater 
or less success ; but like most Southern 
industries, it had felt the blight of war 
and had fallen into desuetude. 

I went several times to look at a place 
that I thought might suit me. It was a 
plantation of considerable extent, that 
had formerly belonged to a wealthy man 
by the name of McAdoo. The estate 
had been for years involved in litigation 
between disputing heirs, during which 
period shiftless cultivation had well-nigh 
exhausted the soil. There had been a 
vineyard of some extent on the place, 
but it had not been attended to since 
the war, and had lapsed into utter neg- 

The Conjure Woman 

lect. The vines — here partly supported 
by decayed and broken-down trellises, 
there twining themselves among the 
branches of the slender saplings which 
had sprung up among them — grew in 
wild and unpruned luxuriance, and the 
few scattered grapes they bore were 
the undisputed prey of the first comer. 
The site was admirably adapted to grape- 
raising ; the soil, with a little attention, 
could not have been better ; and with 
the native grape, the luscious scupper- 
nong, as my main reliance in the begin- 
ning, I felt sure that I could introduce 
and cultivate successfully a number of 
other varieties. 

One day I went over with my wife to 
show her the place. We drove out of 
the town over a long wooden bridge that 
spanned a spreading mill-pond, passed 
the long whitewashed fence surrounding 
the county fair-ground, and struck into 
a road so sandy that the horse's feet 

The Goophered Grapevine 

sank to the fetlocks. Our route lay 
partly up hill and partly down, for we 
were in the sand-hill county ; we drove 
past cultivated farms, and then by aban- 
doned fields grown up in scrub-oak and 
short-leaved pine, and once or twice 
through the solemn aisles of the virgin 
forest, where the tall pines, well-nigh 
meeting over the narrow road, shut out 
the sun, and wrapped us in cloistral sol- 
itude. Once, at a cross-roads, I was in 
doubt as to the turn to take, and we sat 
there waiting ten minutes — we had al- 
ready caught some of the native infec- 
tion of restfulness — for some human 
being to come along, who could direct 
us on our way. At length a little negro 
girl appeared, walking straight as an 
arrow, with a piggin full of water on 
her head. After a little patient investi- 
gation, necessary to overcome the child's 
shyness, we learned what we wished to 
know, and at the end of about five miles 
from the town reached our destination. 

8 The Conpire Woman 

We drove between a pair of decayed 
gateposts — the gate itself had long 
since disappeared — and up a straight 
sandy lane, between two lines of rotting 
rail fence, partly concealed by jimson- 
weeds and briers, to the open space 
where a dwelling-house had once stood, 
evidently a spacious mansion, if we 
might judge from the ruined chimneys 
that were still standing, and the brick 
pillars on which the sills rested. The 
house itself, we had been informed, had 
fallen a victim to the fortunes of war. 

We alighted from the buggy, walked 
about the yard for a while, and then 
wandered off into the adjoining vine- 
yard. Upon Annie's complaining of 
weariness I led the way back to the 
yard, where a pine log, lying under a 
spreading elm, afforded a shady though 
somewhat hard seat. One end of the 
log was already occupied by a venerable- 
looking colored man. He held on his 

The Goophered Grapeviiie 

knees a hat full of grapes, over which 
he was smacking his lips with great 
gusto, and a pile of grapeskins near 
him indicated that the performance was 
no new thing. We approached him at 
an angle from the rear, and were close 
to him before he perceived us. He re- 
spectfully rose as we drew near, and was 
moving away, when I begged him to 
keep his seat. 

"Don't let us disturb you," I said. 
"There is plenty of room for us all." 

He resumed his seat with somewhat 
of embarrassment. While he had been 
standing, I had observed that he was a 
tall man, and, though slightly bowed by 
the weight of years, apparently quite 
vigorous. He was not entirely black, 
and this fact, together with the quality 
of his hair, which was about six inches 
long and very bushy, except on the top 
of his head, where he was quite bald, 
suggested a slight strain of other than 

lo The Conjure Woman 

negro blood. There was a shrewdness 
in his eyes, too, which was not altogether 
African, and which, as we afterwards 
learned from experience, was indicative 
of a corresponding shrewdness in his 
character. He went on eating the 
grapes, but did not seem to enjoy him- 
self quite so well as he had apparently 
done before he became aware of our 

" Do you live around here } " I asked, 
anxious to put him at his ease. 

** Yas, suh. I lives des ober yander, 
behine de nex* san'-hill, on de Lumber- 
ton plank-road." 

"Do you know anything about the 
time when this vineyard was culti- 
vated } '* 

"Lawd bless you, suh, I knows all 
about it. Dey ain' na'er a man in dis 
settlement w'at won' tell you ole Julius 
McAdoo *uz bawn en raise' on dis yer 
same plantation. Is you de Norv'n 

The Goophered Grapevine ii 

gemman w'at 's gwine ter buy de ole 
vimya'd ? " 

" I am looking at it," I replied ; " but 
I don't know that I shall care to buy 
unless I can be reasonably sure of mak- 
ing something out of it." 

" Well, suh, you is a stranger ter me, 
en I is a stranger ter you, en we is bofe 
strangers ter one anudder, but 'f I 'uz 
in yo* place, I would n' buy dis vim- 

"Why not?" I asked. 

" Well, I dunno whe'r you b'lieves in 
cunj'in' er not, — some er de w'ite folks 
don't, er says dey don't, — but de truf 
er de matter is dat dis yer ole vimya'd 
is goophered." 

" Is what .-^ " I asked, not grasping 
the meaning of this unfamiliar word. 

" Is goophered, — cunju'd, bewitch'." 

He imparted this information with 
such solemn earnestness, and with such 
an air of confidential mystery, that I 

12 The Conjure Woman 

felt somewhat interested, while Annie 
was evidently much impressed, and drew 
closer to me. 

" How do you know it is bewitched ? " 
I asked. 

" I would n' spec' fer you ter b'lieve 
me 'less you know all 'bout de fac's. 
But ef you en young miss dere doan' 
min' lis'nin' ter a ole nigger run on a 
minute er two w'ile you er restin', I kin 
'splain to you how it all happen'." 

We assured him that we would be 
glad to hear how it all happened, and 
he began to tell us. At first the cur- 
rent of his memory — or imagination — 
seemed somewhat sluggish ; but as his 
embarrassment wore off, his language 
flowed more freely, and the story ac- 
quired perspective and coherence. As 
he became more and more absorbed in 
the narrative, his eyes assumed a dreamy 
expression, and he seemed to lose sight 
of his auditors, and to be living over 

The Goophered Grapevine 13 

again in monologue his life on the old 

" Ole Mars Dugal' McAdoo," he be- 
gan, " bought dis place long many years 
befo' de wah, en I 'member well w'en 
he sot out all dis yer part er de planta- 
tion in scuppernon's. De vimes growed 
monst'us fas', en Mars Dugal' made a 
thousan' gallon er scuppernon' wine 
eve'y year. 

" Now, ef dey 's an'thing a nigger 
lub, nex' ter 'possum, en chick'n, en 
watermillyums, it 's scuppernon's. Dey 
ain' nuffin dat kin stan' up side'n de 
scuppernon' fer sweetness ; sugar ain't 
a suckumstance ter scuppernon'. Wen 
de season is nigh 'bout ober, en de 
grapes begin ter swivel up des a little 
wid de wrinkles er ole age, — w'en de 
skin git sof ' en brown, — den de scup- 
pernon' make you smack yo' lip en roll 
yo' eye en wush fer mo' ; so I reckon it 
ain' very 'stonishin' dat niggers lub scup- 

14 The Conjtire Woman 

" Dey wuz a sight er niggers in de 
naberhood er de vimya'd. Dere wuz ole 
Mars Henry Brayboy's niggers, en ole 
Mars Jeems McLean's niggers, en Mars 
Dugal's own niggers ; den dey wuz a 
settlement er free niggers en po' buck- 
rahs down by de Wim'l'ton Road, en 
Mars Dugal' had de only vimya'd in de 
naberhood. I reckon it ain* so much so 
nowadays, but befo* de wah, in slab'ry 
times, a nigger did n' mine goin* fi' er 
ten mile in a night, w'en dey wuz sump'n 
good ter eat at de yuther een'. 

" So atter a w'ile Mars Dugal' begin 
ter miss his scuppernon's. Co'se he 
'cuse' de niggers er it, but dey all 'nied 
it ter de las'. Mars Dugal' sot spring 
guns en steel traps, en he en de oberseah 
sot up nights once't er twice't, tel one 
night Mars Dugal' — he 'uz a monst'us 
keerless man — got his leg shot full er 
cow-peas. But somehow er nudder dey 
could n' nebber ketch none er de niggers 

The Goophered Grapevine 15 

I dunner how it happen, but it happen 
des Hke I tell you, en de grapes kep' on 
a-goin' des de same. 

" But bimeby ole Mars Dugal' fix* up 
a plan ter stop it. Dey wuz a cunjuh 
'oman livin' down 'mongs' de free nig- 
gers on de WimTton Road, en all de 
darkies fum Rockfish ter Beaver Crick 
wuz feared er her. She could wuk de 
mos' powerfulles' kin' er goopher, — 
could make people hab fits, er rheumatiz, 
er make 'em des dwinel away en die ; 
en dey say she went out ridin' de niggers 
at night, fer she wuz a witch 'sides bein' 
a cunjuh 'oman. Mars Dugal' hearn 
'bout Aun' Peggy's doin's, en begun ter 
*flect whe'r er no he could n' git her ter 
he'p him keep de niggers off'n de grape- 
vimes. One day in de spring er de year, 
ole miss pack' up a basket er chick'n 
en poun'-cake, en a bottle er scuppernon* 
wine, en Mars Dugal' tuk it in his buggy 
en driv ober ter Aun' Peggy's cabin. 

1 6 The Coitjtire Woman 

He tuk de basket in, en had a long talk 
wid Aun' Peggy. 

" De nex' day Aun' Peggy come up 
ter de vimya'd. De niggers seed her 
slippin' 'roun', en dey soon foun' out 
what she 'uz doin' dere. Mars Dugal' 
had hi'ed her ter goopher de grape- 
vimes. She sa'ntered *roun' 'mongs* de 
vimes, en tuk a leaf fum dis one, en a 
grape-hull fum dat one, en a grape-seed 
fum anudder one ; en den a little twig 
fum here, en a little pinch er dirt fum 
dere, — en put it all in a big black 
bottle, wid a snake's toof en a speckle' 
hen's gall en some ha'rs fum a black 
cat's tail, en den fill' de bottle wid scup- 
pernon' wine. Wen- she got de goopher 
all ready en fix', she tuk 'n went out in 
de woods en buried it under de root uv 
a red oak tree, en den come back en 
tole one er de niggers she done goopher 
de grapevimes, en a'er a nigger w'at eat 
dem grapes 'ud be sho ter die inside'n 
twel' mont's. 

The Goophered Grapevine 17 

" Atter dat de niggers let de scupper- 
non's 'lone, en Mars Dugal' did n' hab 
no 'casion ter fine no mo' fault ; en de 
season wuz mos' gone, w'en a strange 
gemman stop at de plantation one night 
ter see Mars Dugal' on some business ; 
en his coachman, seein' de scuppernon's 
growin' so nice en sweet, slip 'roun' be- 
hine de smoke-house, en et all de scup- 
pernon's he could hole. Nobody did n* 
notice it at de time, but dat night, on de 
way home, de gemman's boss runned 
away en kill' de coachman. W'en we 
hearn de noos, Aun' Lucy, de cook, she 
up 'n say she seed de strange nigger eat'n' 
er de scuppernon's behine de smoke- 
house ; en den we knowed de goopher 
had b'en er wukkin'. Den one er de 
nigger chilluns runned away fum de 
quarters one day, en got in de scupper- 
non's, en died de nex' week. W'ite folks 
say he die' er de fevuh, but de niggers 
knowed it wuz de goopher. So you k'n 

1 8 The Co7ijitre Woman 

be sho de darkies did n' hab much ter 
do wid dem scuppernon' vimes. 

" Wen de scuppernon' season 'uz ober 
fer dat year, Mars Dugal' foun' he had 
made fifteen hund'ed gallon er wine ; 
en one er de niggers hearn him laffin' 
wid de oberseah fit ter kill, en sayin' 
dem fifteen hund'ed gallon er wine wuz 
monst'us good intrus' on de ten dollars 
he laid out on de vimya'd. So I 'low 
ez he paid Aun' Peggy ten dollars fer to 
goopher de grapevimes. 

" De goopher did n' wuk no mo* tel 
de nex' summer, w'en 'long to'ds de 
middle er de season one er de fiel' ban's 
died ; en ez dat lef Mars Dugal' sho't er 
ban's, he went off ter town fer ter buy 
anudder. He fotch de noo nigger home 
wid 'im. He wuz er ole nigger, er de 
color er a gingy-cake, en ball ez a boss- 
apple on de top er his head. He wuz 
a peart ole nigger, do', en could do a 
big day's wuk. 

The GoopJiered Grapevme 19 

** Now it happen dat one er de nig- 
gers on de nex' plantation, one er ole 
Mars Henry Brayboy's niggers, had 
runned away de day befo', en tuk ter de 
swamp, en ole Mars Dugal' en some er 
de yuther nabor w'ite folks had gone 
out wid dere guns en dere dogs fer ter 
he'p 'em hunt fer de nigger ; en de 
ban's on our own plantation wuz all so 
flusterated dat we fuhgot ter tell de noo 
ban' 'bout de goopher on de scuppernon' 
vimes. Co'se he smell de grapes en see 
de vimes, an atter dahk de fus' thing he 
done wuz ter slip off ter de grapevimes 
'dout sayin' nuffin ter nobody. Nex' 
mawnin' he tole some er de niggers 'bout 
de fine bait er scuppernon' he et de 
night befo'. 

" Wen dey tole 'im 'bout de goopher 
on de grapevimes, he 'uz dat tarrified 
dat he turn pale, en look des like he 
gwine ter die right in his tracks. De 
oberseah come up en axed w'at 'uz de 

20 TJie Conjure Woman 

matter ; en w'en dey tole 'im Henry 
be'n eatin' er de scuppernon's, en got 
de goopher on 'im, be gin Henry a big 
drink er w'iskey, en 'low dat de nex* 
rainy day he take 'im ober ter Aun' 
Peggy's, en see ef she would n' take de 
goopher off' n him, seein* ez he did n' 
know nuffin erbout it tel he done et de 

" Sho nuff, it rain de nex' day, en de 
oberseah went ober ter Aun' Peggy's 
wid Henry. En Aun' Peggy say dat 
bein' ez Henry did n' know 'bout de 
goopher, en et de grapes in ign'ance er 
de conseq'ences, she reckcm she mought 
be able fer ter take de goopher off' n 
him. So she fotch out er bottle wid 
some cunjuh medicine in it, en po'd 
some out in a go'd fer Henry ter drink. 
He manage ter git it down ; he say it 
tas'e like whiskey wid sump'n bitter in 
it. She 'lowed dat 'ud keep de goopher 
off'n him tel de spring ; but w'en de sap 

The Goophered Grapevijie 21 

begin ter rise in de grapevimes he ha' 
ter come en see her ag'in, en she tell 
him w'at e's ter do. 

" Nex spring, w'en de sap commence' 
ter rise in de scuppernon' vime, Henry 
tuk a ham one night. Whar 'd he git 
de ham } I doan know ; dey wa'n't no 
hams on de plantation 'cep'n' w'at 'uz in 
de smoke-house, but /never see Henry 
'bout de smoke-house. But ez I wuz 
a-sayin', he tuk de ham ober ter Aun' 
Peggy's ; en Aun' Peggy tole 'im dat 
w'en Mars Dugal' begin ter prune de 
grapevimes, he mus' go en take 'n scrape 
off de sap whar it ooze out'n de cut 
een's er de vimes, en 'n'int his ball head 
wid it ; en ef he do dat once't a year de 
goopher would n' wuk agin 'im long ez 
he done it. En bein' ez he fotch her de 
ham, she fix' it so he kin eat all de 
scuppernon' he want. 

** So Henry 'n'int his head wid de sap 
out'n de big grapevime des ha'f way 

22 The Conjure Woman 

'twix' de quarters en de big house, en 
de goopher nebber wuk agin him dat 
summer. But de beatenes' thing you 
eber see happen ter Henry. Up ter dat 
time he wuz ez ball ez a sweeten' 'tater, 
but des ez soon ez de young leaves begun 
ter come out on de grapevimes, de ha'r 
begun ter grow out on Henry's head, 
en by de middle er de summer he had 
de bigges' head er ha'r on de plantation. 
Befo' dat, Henry had tol'able good ha'r 
'roun' de aidges, but soon ez de young 
grapes begun ter come, Henry's ha'r 
begun to quirl all up in little balls, des 
like dis yer reg'lar grapy ha'r, en by de 
time de grapes got ripe his head look 
des like a bunch er grapes. Combin' 
it did n' do no good ; he wuk at it ha'f 
de night wid er Jim Crow,^ en think he 
git it straighten' out, but in de mawnin* 

1 A small card, resembling a currycomb in con- 
struction, and used by negroes in the rural districts 
instead of a comb. 

The Goophered Grapevine 23 

de grapes 'ud be dere des de same. So 
he gin it up, en tried ter keep de grapes 
down by havin' his ha'r cut sho't. 

" But dat wa'n't de quares' thing 'bout 
de goopher. When Henry come ter de 
plantation, he wuz gittin' a little ole an 
stiff in de j'ints. But dat summer he 
got des ez spry en libely ez any young 
nigger on de plantation ; fac', he got so 
biggity dat Mars Jackson, de oberseah, 
ha' ter th'eaten ter whip 'im, ef he did n' 
stop cuttin' up his didos en behave his- 
se'f. But de mos' cur'ouses' thing hap- 
pen' in de fall, when de sap begin ter 
go down in de grapevimes. Fus', when 
de grapes 'uz gethered, de knots begun 
ter straighten out'n Henry's ha'r; en 
w'en de leaves begin ter fall, Henry's 
ha'r 'mence' ter drap out ; en when de 
vimes 'uz bar', Henry's head wuz bailer 'n 
it wuz in de spring, en he begin ter git 
ole en stiff in de j'ints ag'in, en paid 
no mo* 'tention ter de gals dyoin' er de 

24 The Conjure Woman 

whole winter. En nex' spring, w'en he 
rub de sap on ag'in, he got young ag'in, 
en so soopl en libely dat none er de 
young niggers on de plantation could n* 
jump, ner dance, ner hoe ez much cotton 
ez Henry. But in de fall er de year his 
grapes 'mence' ter straighten out, en his 
j'ints ter git stiff, en his ha'r drap off, en 
de rheumatiz begin ter wrastle wid 'im. 

" Now, ef you 'd 'a' knowed ole Mars 
Dugal' McAdoo, you 'd 'a' knowed dat it 
ha' ter be a mighty rainy day when he 
could n' fine sump'n fer his niggers ter 
do, en it ha' ter be a mighty little hole 
he could n' crawl thoo, en ha' ter be a 
monst'us cloudy night when a dollar git 
by him in de dahkness ; en w'en he see 
how Henry git young in de spring en 
ole in de fall, he 'lowed ter hisse'f ez 
how he could make mo' money out'n 
Henry dan by wukkin' him in de cot- 
ton-fiel'. 'Long de nex' spring, atter 
de sap 'mence' ter rise, en Henry 'n'int 

The Goophered Grapevine 25 

'is head en sta'ted fer ter git young en 
soopl, Mars Dugal' up 'n tuk Henry ter 
town, en sole 'im fer fifteen hunder' 
dollars. Co'se de man w'at bought 
Henry did n' know nuffin 'bout de goo- 
pher, en Mars Dugal' did n' see no 'ca- 
sion fer ter tell 'im. Long to'ds de fall, 
w'en de sap went down, Henry begin 
ter git ole ag'in same ez yuzhal, en his 
noo marster begin ter git skeered les'n 
he gwine ter lose his fifteen-hunder'-dol- 
lar nigger. He sent fer a mighty fine 
doctor, but de med'cine did n' 'pear ter 
do no good ; de goopher had a good 
holt. Henry tole de doctor 'bout de 
goopher, but de doctor des laff at 'im. 

" One day in de winter Mars Dugal' 
went ter town, en wuz santerin' 'long de 
Main Street, when who should he meet 
but Henry's noo marster. Dey said 
* Hoddy,' en Mars Dugal' ax 'im ter hab 
a seegyar ; en atter dey run on awhile 
'bout de craps en de weather, Mars 

26 The Conjure Woman 

Dugal' ax 'im, sorter keerless, like ez ef 
he des thought of it, — 

" * How you like de nigger I sole you 
las* spring ? ' 

" Henry's marster shuck his head en 
knock de ashes off' n his seegyar. 

" ' Spec' I made a bad bahgin when I 
bought dat nigger. Henry done good 
wuk all de summer, but sence de fall set 
in he 'pears ter be sorter pinin' away. 
Dey ain* nuffin pertickler de matter 
wid 'im — leastways de doctor say so — 
'cep'n' a tech er de rheumatiz ; but his 
ha'r is all fell out, en ef he don't pick 
up his strenk mighty soon, I spec' I 'm 
gwine ter lose 'im.' 

" Dey smoked on awhile, en bimeby 
ole mars say, * Well, a bahgin 's a bah- 
gin, but you en me is good fren's, en I 
doan wan' ter see you lose all de money 
you paid fer dat nigger ; en ef w'at you 
say is so, en I ain't 'sputin' it, he ain't 
wuf much now. I 'spec's you wukked 

The Goophered Grapevine 27 

him too ha'd dis summer, er e'se de 
swamps down here don't agree wid de 
san'-hill nigger. So you des lemme 
know, en ef he gits any wusser I '11 be 
willin' ter gib yer five hund'ed dollars fer 
'im, en take my chances on his livin'.* 

" Sho 'nuff, when Henry begun ter 
draw up wid de rheumatiz en it look 
like he gwine ter die fer sho, his noo 
marster sen' fer Mars Dugal', en Mars 
Dugal' gin him what he promus, en 
brung Henry home ag'in. He tuk 
good keer uv 'im dyoin' er de winter, — • 
give 'im w'iskey ter rub his rheumatiz, 
en terbacker ter smoke, en all he want 
ter eat, — 'caze a nigger w'at he could 
make a thousan* dollars a year off'n 
did n' grow on eve'y huckleberry bush. 

"Nex' spring, w'en de sap ris en 
Henry's ha'r commence' ter sprout. Mars 
Dugal' sole 'im ag'in, down in Robeson 
County dis time ; en he kep' dat sellin' 
business up fer five year er mo'. Henry 

28 The Cojtjiire Woman 

nebber say nuffin 'bout de goopher ter 
his noo marsters, 'caze he know he gwine 
ter be tuk good keer uv de nex' winter, 
w'en Mars Dugal' buy him back. En 
Mars Dugal' made 'nuff money off'n 
Henry ter buy anudder plantation ober 
on Beaver Crick. 

'* But 'long 'bout de een* er dat five 
year dey come a stranger ter stop at de 
plantation. De fus' day he 'uz dere he 
went out wid Mars Dugal' en spent all 
de mawnin' lookin' ober de vimya'd, en 
atter dinner dey spent all de evenin' play- 
in' kya'ds. De niggers soon 'skiver' dat 
he wuz a Yankee, en dat he come down 
ter Norf C'lina fer ter I'arn de w'ite folks 
how to raise grapes en make wine. He 
promus Mars Dugal' he c'd make de 
grapevimes b'ar twice't ez many grapes, 
en dat de noo winepress he wuz a-sell- 
in' would make mo' d'n twice't ez many 
gallons er wine. En ole Mars Dugal' 
des drunk it all in, des 'peared ter be 

The Goophered Grapevine 29 

bewitch' wid dat Yankee. Wen de 
darkies see dat Yankee runnin' 'roun' 
de vimya'd en diggin' under de grape- 
vimes, dey shuk dere heads, en 'lowed dat 
dey feared Mars Diigal' losin' his min'. 
Mars Dugal' had all de dirt dug away 
fum under de roots er all de scupper- 
non' vimes, an' let 'em stan' dat away fer 
a week er mo'. Den dat Yankee made 
de niggers fix up a mixtry er lime en 
ashes en manyo, en po' it 'roun' de roots 
er de grapevimes. Den he 'vise Mars 
Dugal' fer ter trim de vimes close't, en 
Mars Dugal' tuck 'n done eve'ything 
de Yankee tole him ter do. Dyoin' all 
er dis time, mind yer, dis yer Yankee 
wuz libbin' off'n de fat er de Ian', at de 
big house, en playin' kya'ds wid Mars 
Dugal' eve'y night ; en dey say Mars 
Dugal' los' mo'n a thousan' dollars dyoin' 
er de week dat Yankee wuz a-ruinin' de 

"Wen de sap ris nex' spring, ole 

30 The Conjure Woman 

Henry 'n'inted his head ez yuzhal, en 
his ha'r 'mence' ter grow des de same 
ez it done eve'y year. De scuppernon' 
vimes growed monst's fas', en de leaves 
wuz greener en thicker dan dey eber 
be'n dyoin' my rememb'ance ; en Hen- 
ry's ha'r growed out thicker dan eber, 
en he 'peared ter git younger 'n younger, 
en soopler 'n soopler; en seein' ez he 
wuz sho't er ban's dat spring, bavin* tuk 
in consid'able noo groun', Mars Dugal' 
'eluded he would n' sell Henry 'tel he 
git de crap in en 4^ cotton chop'. So 
he kep' Henry on de plantation. 

"But 'long 'bout time fer de grapes 
ter come on de scuppernon' vimes, dey 
'peared ter come a change ober 'em ; 
de leaves withered en swivel' up, en de 
young grapes turn' yaller, en bimeby 
eve'ybody on de plantation could see 
dat de whole vimya'd wuz dyin'. Mars 
Dugal' tuk'n water de vimes en done 
all he could, but 't wa'n' no use : dat 

The Goophered Grapevine 31 

Yankee had done bus' de watermillyum. 
One time de vimes picked up a bit, en 
Mars Dugal' 'lowed dey wuz gwine ter 
come out ag'in ; but dat Yankee done 
dug too close under de roots, en prune 
de branches too close ter de vime, en all 
dat lime en ashes done burn' de life 
out'n de vimes, en dey des kep' a-with'in' 
en a-swivelin'. 

"All dis time de goopher wuz a-wuk- 
kin'. When de vimes sta'ted ter wither, 
Henry 'mence' ter complain er his rheu- 
matiz ; en when de leaves begin ter dry 
up, his ha'r 'mence' ter drap out. When 
de vimes fresh' up a bit, Henry 'd git 
peart ag'in, en when de vimes wither* 
ag'in, Henry 'd git ole ag'in, en des kep' 
gittin' mo' en mo' fitten fer nuffin ; he 
des pined away, en pined away, en 
fine'ly tuk ter his cabin ; en when de 
big vime whar he got de sap ter 'n'int 
his head withered en turned yaller en 
died, Henry died too, — des went out 

32 The Conjure Woman 

sorter like a cannel. Dey did n't 'pear 
ter be nuffin de matter wid 'im, 'cep'n' de 
rheumatiz, but his strenk des dwinel' 
away 'tel he did n' hab ernuff lef ter 
draw his bref. De goopher had got de 
under holt, en th'owed Henry dat time 
fer good en all. 

" Mars Dugal' tuk on might'ly 'bout 
losin' his vimes en his nigger in de same 
year ; en he swo' dat ef he could git holt 
er dat Yankee he 'd wear 'im ter a fraz- 
zle, en den chaw up de frazzle ; en he 'd 
done it, too, for Mars Dugal' 'uz a mon- 
st'us brash man w'en he once git started. 
He sot de vimya'd out ober ag'in, but 
it wuz th'ee er fo' year befo' de vimes 
got ter b'arin' any scuppernon's. 

"W'en de wah broke out, Mars Du- 
gal' raise' a comp'ny, en went off ter 
fight de Yankees. He say he wuz 
mighty glad dat wah come, en he des 
want ter kill a Yankee fer eve'y dollar 
he los' 'long er dat grape-raisin' Yankee. 


The Goophered Grapevine 33 

En I 'spec' he would 'a' done it, too, ef 
de Yankees had n' s'picioned sump'n, 
en killed him fus'. Atter de s'render 
ole miss move' ter town, de niggers all 
scattered 'way fum de plantation, en de 
vimya'd ain' be'n cultervated sence." 

*' Is that story true ? " asked Annie 
doubtfully, but seriously, as the old man 
concluded his narrative. 

** It 's des ez true ez I 'm a-settin' 
here, miss. Dey 's a easy way ter prove 
it : I kin lead de way right ter Henry's 
grave ober yander in de plantation bury- 
in'-groun'. En I tell yer w'at, marster, 
I would n' 'vise you to buy dis yer ole 
vimya'd, 'caze de goopher 's on it yit, en 
dey ain' no tellin' w'en it 's gwine ter 
crap out." 

"But I thought you said all the old 
vines died." 

" Dey did 'pear ter die, but a few un 
*em come out ag'in, en is mixed in 'mongs' 
de yuthers. I ain' skeered ter eat de 

34 The Conjure Woman 

grapes, 'caze I knows de old vimes fum 
de noo ones ; but wid strangers dey 
ain' no tellin* w'at mought happen. I 
would n' Vise yer ter buy dis vimya'd." 

I bought the vineyard, nevertheless, 
and it has been for a long time in a 
thriving condition, and is often referred 
to by the local press as a striking illus- 
tration of the opportunities open to 
Northern capital in the development of 
Southern industries. The luscious scup- 
pernong holds first rank among our 
grapes, though we cultivate a great many 
other varieties, and our income from 
grapes packed and shipped to the North- 
ern markets is quite considerable. I have 
not noticed any developments of the 
goopher in the vineyard, although I have 
a mild suspicion that our colored assist- 
ants do not suffer from want of grapes 
during the season. 

I found, when I bought the vineyard, 
that Uncle Julius had occupied a cabin 

TJie Goophered Grapevine 35 

on the place for many years, and derived 
a respectable revenue from the product 
of the neglected grapevines. This, 
doubtless, accounted for his advice to 
me not to buy the vineyard, though 
whether it inspired the goopher story I 
am unable to state. I believe, however, 
that the wages I paid him for his ser- 
vices as coachman, for I gave him em- 
ployment in that capacity, were more 
than an equivalent for anything he lost 
by the sale of the vineyard. 


On the northeast corner of my vine- 
yard in central North Carolina, and 
fronting on the Lumberton plank-road, 
there stood a small frame house, of the 
simplest construction. It was built of 
pine lumber, and contained but one 
room, to which one window gave light 
and one door admission. Its weather- 
beaten sides revealed a virgin innocence 
of paint. Against one end of the house, 
and occupying half its width, there stood 
a huge brick chimney : the crumbling 
mortar had left large cracks between the 
bricks ; the bricks themselves had be- 
gun to scale off in large flakes, leaving 
the chimney sprinkled with unsightly 
blotches. These evidences of decay 
were but partially concealed by a creep- 

Po Sandy 37 

ing vine, which extended its slender 
branches hither and thither in an am- 
bitious but futile attempt to cover the 
whole chimney. The wooden shutter, 
which had once protected the unglazed 
window, had fallen from its hinges, and 
lay rotting in the rank grass and jimson- 
weeds beneath. This building, I learned 
when I bought the place, had been used 
as a schoolhouse for several years prior 
to the breaking out of the war, since 
which time it had remained unoccupied, 
save when some stray cow or vagrant 
hog had sought shelter within its walls 
from the chill rains and nipping winds 
of winter. 

One day my wife requested me to 
build her a new kitchen. The house 
erected by us, when we first came to live 
upon the vineyard, contained a very con- 
veniently arranged kitchen ; but for 
some occult reason my wife wanted a 
kitchen in the back yard, apart from the 

38 TJie Conjtcre Woman 

dwelling-house, after the usual Southern 
fashion. Of course I had to build it. 

To save expense, I decided to tear 
down the old schoolhouse, and use the 
lumber, which was in a good state of 
preservation, in the construction of the 
new kitchen. Before demolishing the 
old house, however, I made an estimate 
of the amount of material contained in 
it, and found that I would have to buy 
several hundred feet of lumber addi- 
tional, in order to build the new kitchen 
according to my wife's plan. 

One morning old Julius McAdoo, our 
colored coachman, harnessed the gray 
mare to the rockaway, and drove my 
wife and me over to the sawmill from 
which I meant to order the new lumber. 
We drove down the long lane which led 
from our house to the plank-road ; follow- 
ing the plank-road for about a mile, we 
turned into a road running through the 
forest and across the swamp to the saw- 

Po Sandy 39 

mill beyond. Our carriage jolted over 
the half-rotted corduroy road which trav- 
ersed the swamp, and then climbed the 
long hill leading to the sawmill. When 
we reached the mill, the foreman had 
gone over to a neighboring farmhouse, 
probably to smoke or gossip, and we 
were compelled to await his return be- 
fore we could transact our business. 
We remained seated in the carriage, a 
few rods from the mill, and watched the 
leisurely movements of the mill-hands. 
We had not waited long before a huge 
pine log was placed in position, the 
machinery of the mill was set in mo- 
tion, and the circular saw began to eat 
its way through the log, with a loud 
whir which resounded throughout the 
vicinity of the mill. The sound rose 
and fell in a sort of rhythmic cadence, 
which, heard from where we sat, was 
not unpleasing, and not loud enough ta 
prevent conversation. When the saw 

40 The Conjure Woman 

started on its second journey through 
the log, Julius observed, in a lugubrious 
tone, and with a perceptible shudder : — 

*' Ugh ! but dat des do cuddle my 

"What's the matter, Uncle Julius ? " 
inquired my wife, who is of a very sym- 
pathetic turn of mind. " Does the noise 
affect your nerves ? " 

"No, Mis' Annie," replied the old 
man, with emotion, " I ain' narvous ; but 
dat saw, a-cuttin* en grindin' thoo dat 
stick er timber, en moanin', en groanin,' 
en sweekin', kyars my 'memb'ance back 
ter ole times, en 'min's me er po' Sandy." 
The pathetic intonation with which he 
lengthened out the "po' Sandy " touched 
a responsive chord in our own hearts. 

"And who was poor Sandy.''" asked 
my wife, who takes a deep interest in 
the stories of plantation life which she 
hears from the lips of the older colored 
people. Some of these stories are 

Pd Sandy 41 

quaintly humorous ; others wildly ex- 
travagant, revealing the Oriental cast of 
the negro's imagination ; while others, 
poured freely into the sympathetic ear 
of a Northern-bred woman, disclose 
many a tragic incident of the darker 
side of slavery. 

"Sandy," said Julius, in reply to my 
wife's question, " was a nigger w'at use- 
ter b'long ter ole Mars Marrabo Mc- 
Swayne. Mars Marrabo' s place wuz on 
de yuther side'n de swamp, right nex' ter 
yo' place. Sandy wuz a monst'us good 
nigger, en could do so many things 
erbout a plantation, en alluz 'ten' ter his 
wuk so well, dat w'en Mars Marrabo's 
chilluns growed up en married off, dey 
all un 'em wanted dey daddy fer ter gin 
'em Sandy fer a weddin' present. But 
Mars Marrabo knowed de res' would n* 
be satisfied ef he gin Sandy ter a'er one 
un 'em ; so w'en dey wuz all done mar- 
ried, he fix it by 'lowin' one er his chil- 

The Conjure Woman 

luns ter take Sandy fer a mont' er so, en 
den ernudder for a mont' er so, en so on 
dat erway tel dey had all had 'im de 
same lenk er time ; en den dey would 
all take him roun' ag'in, 'cep'n' oncet in 
a w'ile w'en Mars Marrabo would len' 
'im ter some er his yuther kinfolks 'roun' 
de country, w'en dey wuz short er han's; 
tel bimeby it got so Sandy did n' hardly 
knowed whar he wuz gwine ter stay fum 
one week's een' ter de yuther. 

" One time w'en Sandy wuz lent out 
ez yushal, a spekilater come erlong wid 
a lot er niggers, en Mars Marrabo swap' 
Sandy's wife off fer a noo 'oman. W'en 
Sandy come back. Mars Marrabo gin 'im 
a dollar, en 'lowed he wuz monst'us 
sorry fer ter break up de fambly, but de 
spekilater had gin 'im big boot, en times 
wuz hard en money skase, en so he 
wuz bleedst ter make de trade. Sandy 
tuk on some 'bout losin' his wife, but he 
soon seed dey want no use cryin' ober 

Pd Sandy 43 

spilt merlasses ; en bein* ez he lacked de 
looks er de noo 'oman, he tuk up wid 
her atter she 'd be'n on de plantation a 
mont' er so. 

" Sandy en his noo wife got on mighty- 
well tergedder, en de niggers all 'mence' 
ter talk about how lovin' dey wuz. Wen 
Tenie wuz tuk sick oncet, Sandy useter 
set up all night wid 'er, en den go ter 
wuk in de mawnin' des lack he had his 
reg'lar sleep ; en Tenie would 'a' done 
anythin' in de worl' for her Sandy. 

** Sandy en Tenie had n' be'n libbin* 
tergedder fer mo' d'n two mont's befo* 
Mars Marrabo's old uncle, w'at libbed 
down in Robeson County, sent up ter 
fin' out ef Mars Marrabo could n' len' 
'im er hire 'im a good han' fer a mont' 
er so. Sandy's marster wuz one er dese 
yer easy-gwine folks w'at wanter please 
eve'ybody, en he says yas, he could len' 
'im Sandy. En Mars Marrabo tol' 
Sandy fer ter git ready ter go down ter 

44 The Conjtire Woman 

Robeson nex' day, fer ter stay a mont* 
er so. 

" It wuz monst'us hard on Sandy fer 
ter take 'im 'way fum Tenie. It wuz so 
fur down ter Robeson dat he did n' hab 
no chance er comin' back ter see her tel 
de time wuz up ; he would n' 'a mine 
comin' ten er fifteen mile at night ter 
see Tenie, but Mars Marrabo's uncle's 
plantation wuz mo' d'n forty mile off. 
Sandy wuz mighty sad en cas' down 
atter w'at Mars Marrabo tol' 'im, en he 
says ter Tenie, sezee : — 

" * I 'm gittin' monst'us ti'ed er dish 
yer gwine roun' so much. Here I is lent 
ter Mars Jeems dis mont', en I got ter 
do so-en-so ; en ter Mars Archie de nex' 
mont', en I got ter do so-en-so ; den I 
got ter go ter Miss Jinnie's : en hit 's 
Sandy dis en Sandy dat, en Sandy yer 
en Sandy dere, tel it 'pears ter me I ain' 
got no home, ner no marster, ner no 
mistiss, ner no nuffin. I can't eben keep 


Pd Sandy 45 

a wife : my yuther ole 'oman wuz sol' 
away widout my gittin' a chance fer ter 
tell her good-by ; en now I got ter go off 
en leab you, Tenie, en I dunno whe'r 
I 'm eber gwine ter see you ag'in er no. 
I wisht I wuz a tree, er a stump, er a 
rock, er sump'n w'at could stay on de 
plantation fer a w'ile.' 

" Atter Sandy got thoo talking Tenie 
didn' say naer word, but des sot dere 
by de fier, studyin' en studyin'. Bimeby 
she up'n' says : — 

" * Sandy, is I eber tol' you I wuz a 
cunjuh 'oman ? ' 

'' Co'se Sandy hadn' nebber dremp' 
er nuffin lack dat, en he made a great 
'miration w'en he hear w'at Tenie say. 
Bimeby Tenie went on : — 

*' * I ain' goophered nobody, ner done 
no cunjuh wuk, fer fifteen year er mo' ; 
en w'en I got religion I made up my 
mine I would n' wuk no mo' goopher. 
But dey is some things I doan b'lieve 

46 The Co7iJ7tre Woman 

it 's no sin fer ter do ; en ef you doan 
wanter be sent roun' fum pillar ter pos', 
en ef you doan wanter go down ter 
Robeson, I kin fix things so you won't 
haf ter. Ef you '11 des say de word, I 
kin turn you ter w'ateber you wanter be, 
en you kin stay right whar you wanter, 
ez long ez you mineter.' 

" Sandy say he doan keer ; he 's will- 
in' fer ter do anythin' fer ter stay close 
ter Tenie. Den Tenie ax 'im ef he doan 
wanter be turnt inter a rabbit. 

** Sandy say, ' No, de dogs mought git 
atter me.' 

" ' Shill I turn you ter a wolf ? ' sez 

" * No, eve'ybody 's skeered er a wolf,^ 
en I doan want nobody ter be skeered 
er me.' 

** * Shill I turn you ter a mawkin'- 
bird } ' 

" * No, a hawk mought ketch me. I 
wanter be turnt inter sump'n w'at 'IJ 
stay in one place.' 

Pd Sandy 47 

*' * I kin turn you ter a tree,' sez 
Tenie. 'You won't hab no mouf ner 
years, but I kin turn you back oncet in 
a w'ile, so you kin git sump'n ter eat, 
en hear w'at 's gwine on,' 

" Well, Sandy say dat '11 do. En so 
Tenie tuk 'im down by de aidge er de 
swamp, not fur fum de quarters, en turnt 
'im inter a big pine-tree, en sot 'im out 
'mongs' some yuther trees. En de nex' 
mawnin', ez some er de fiel' ban's wuz 
gwine long dere, dey seed a tree w'at 
dey did n' 'member er habbin' seed befo'; 
it wuz monst'us quare, en dey wuz bleedst 
ter 'low dat dey had n' 'membered right, 
er e'se one er de saplin's had be'n grow- 
in' monst'us fas'. 

"Wen Mars Marrabo 'skiver' dat 
Sandy wuz gone, he 'lowed Sandy had 
runned away. He got de dogs out, but 
de las' place dey could track Sandy ter 
wuz de foot er dat pine-tree. En dere 
de dogs stood en barked, en bayed, en 

48 The Conjure Woman 

pawed at de tree, en tried ter climb up 
on it ; en w'en dey wuz tuk roun' thoo 
de swamp ter look fer de scent, dey 
broke loose en made fer dat tree ag'in. 
It wuz de beatenis' thing de w'ite folks 
eber hearn of, en Mars Marrabo 'lowed 
dat Sandy must 'a' dim' up on de tree 
en jump' off on a mule er sump'n, en rid 
fur ernuff fer ter spile de scent. Mars 
Marrabo wanted ter *cuse some er de 
yuther niggers er heppin' Sandy off, but 
dey all 'nied it ter de las' ; en eve'ybody 
knowed Tenie sot too much sto' by 
Sandy fer ter he'p 'im run away whar 
she could n' nebber see 'im no mo'. 

" W'en Sandy had be'n gone long 
ernuff fer folks ter think he done got 
clean away, Tenie useter go down ter 
de woods at night en turn 'im back, en 
den dey 'd slip up ter de cabin en set by 
de fire en talk. But dey ha' ter be mon- 
st'us keerful, er e'se somebody would 'a' 
seed 'em, en dat would 'a' spile' de whole 

Po Sandy 49 


thing ; so Tenie alluz turnt Sandy back 
in de mawnin' early, befo' anybody wuz 

"But Sandy did n' git erlong widout 
his trials en tribberlations. One day a 
woodpecker come erlong en 'mence' ter 
peck at de tree ; en de nex time Sandy 
wuz turnt back he had a little roun' hole 
in his arm, des lack a sharp stick be'n 
stuck in it. Atter dat Tenie sot a spar- 
rer-hawk fer ter watch de tree ; en w'en 
de woodpecker come erlong nex' mawnin' 
fer ter finish his nes', he got gobble' up 
mos"fo' he stuck his bill in de bark. 

"Nudder time, Mars Marrabo sent a 
nigger out in de woods fer ter chop tup- 
pentime boxes. De man chop a box in 
dish yer tree, en hack' de bark up two 
er th'ee feet, fer ter let de tuppentime 
run. De nex' time Sandy wuz turnt 
back he had a big skyar on his lef leg, 
des lack it be'n skunt ; en it tuk Tenie 
nigh 'bout all night fer ter fix a mixtry 

50 The Conjure Woman 

ter kyo it up. Atter dat, Tenie sot a 
hawnet fer ter watch de tree ; en w'en 
de nigger come back ag'in fer ter cut 
ernudder box on de yuther side'n de 
tree, de hawnet stung 'im so hard dat 
de ax sHp en cut his foot nigh 'bout 

" W'en Tenie see so many things hap- 
penin' ter de tree, she 'eluded she 'd ha' 
ter turn Sandy ter sump'n e'se ; en atter 
studyin' de matter ober, en talkin' wid 
Sandy one ebenin', she made up her 
mine fer ter fix up a goopher mixtry 
w'at would turn herse'f en Sandy ter 
foxes, er sump'n, so dey could run away 
en go some'rs whar dey could be free 
en lib lack w'ite folks. 

" But dey ain' no tellin' w'at 's gwine 
ter happen in dis worl'. Tenie had got 
de night sot fer her en Sandy ter run 
away, w'en dat ve'y day one er Mars 
Marrabo's sons rid up ter de big house 
in his buggy, en say his wife wuz mon- 

Pd Sandy 5 1 

st'us sick, en he want his mammy ter 
len' 'im a 'oman fer ter nuss his wife. 
Tenie's mistiss say sen' Tenie ; she wuz 
a good nuss. Young mars wuz in a tar- 
rible hurry fer ter git back home. Tenie 
wuz washin' at de big house dat day, en 
her mistiss say she should go right 'long 
wid her young marster. Tenie tried 
ter make some 'scuse fer ter git away 
en hide 'tel night, w'en she would have 
eve'ything fix' up fer her en Sandy ; she 
say she wanter go ter her cabin fer ter 
git her bonnet. Her mistiss say it doan 
matter 'bout de bonnet ; her head-hank- 
cher wuz good ernuff. Den Tenie say 
she wanter git her bes' frock ; her mis- 
tiss say no, she doan need no mo' frock, 
en w'en dat one got dirty she could git 
a clean one whar she wuz gwine. So 
Tenie had ter git in de buggy en go 
'long wid young Mars Dunkin ter his 
plantation, w'ich wuz mo' d'n twenty 
mile away ; en dey wa'n't no chance er 

52 The Conjure Woman 

her seein' Sandy no mo' 'tel she come 
back home. De po' gal felt monst'us 
bad 'bout de way things wuz gwine on, 
en she knowed Sandy mus' be a won- 
d'rin' why she didn' come en turn 'im 
back no mo'. 

"Wiles Tenie wuz away nussin' 
young Mars Dunkin's wife, Mars Mar- 
rabo tuk a notion fer ter buil' 'im a 
noo kitchen ; en bein' ez he had lots er 
timber on his place, he begun ter look 
'roun' fer a tree ter hab de lumber sawed 
out'n. En I dunno how it come to be 
so, but he happen fer ter hit on de ve'y 
tree w'at Sandy wuz turnt inter. Tenie 
wuz gone, en dey wa'n't nobody ner 
nuffin fer ter watch de tree. 

" De two men w'at cut de tree down 
say dey nebber had sech a time wid a 
tree befo' : dey axes would glansh off, 
en did n' 'pear ter make no progress 
thoo de wood ; en of all de creakin', en 
shakin', en wobblin' you eber see, dat 

Po' Sandy 53 

tree done it w'en it commence' ter fall. 
It wuz de beatenis' thing ! 

"W'en dey got de tree all trim' up, 
dey chain it up ter a timber waggin, 
en start fer de sawmill. But dey had a 
hard time gittin' de log dere : fus' dey 
got stuck in de mud w'en dey wuz 
gwine crosst de swamp, en it wuz two 
er th'ee hours befo' dey could git out. 
W'en dey start' on ag'in, de chain kep' 
a-comin' loose, en dey had ter keep 
a-stoppin' en a-stoppin' fer ter hitch de 
log up ag'in. W'en dey commence' ter 
climb de hill ter de sawmill, de log 
broke loose, en roll down de hill en in 
'mongs' de trees, en hit tuk nigh 'bout 
half a day mo' ter git it haul' up ter de 

"De nex' mawnin' atter de day de 
tree wuz haul' ter de sawmill, Tenie 
come home. W'en she got back ter her 
cabin, de fus' thing she done wuz ter 
run down ter de woods en see how Sandy 

54 TJie Conjure Woman 

wuz gittin' on. Wen she seed de stump 
standin' dere, wid de sap runnin' out'n 
it, en de limbs layin' scattered roun', 
she nigh 'bout went out'n her min'. She 
run ter her cabin, en got her goopher 
mixtry, en den follered de track er de 
timber waggin ter de sawmill. She 
knowed Sandy could n' lib mo' d'n a min- 
ute er so ef she turnt him back, fer he 
wuz all chop' up so he 'd 'a' be'n bleedst 
ter die. But she wanted ter turn 'im 
back long ernuff fer ter 'splain ter 'im 
dat she had n' went off a-purpose, en lef 
'im ter be chop' down en sawed up. 
She did n' want Sandy ter die wid no 
hard feelin's to'ds her. 

" De ban's at de sawmill had des got 
de big log on de kerridge, en wuz start- 
in' up de saw, w'en dey seed a 'oman 
runnin' up de hill, all out er bref, cryin' 
en gwine on des lack she wuz plumb 
'stracted. It wuz Tenie ; she come right 
inter de mill, en th'owed herse'f on de 

Po Sandy 55 

log, right in front er de saw, a-hollerin' 
en cryin' ter her Sandy ter fergib her, 
en not ter think hard er her, fer it wa'n't 
no fault er hern. Den Tenie 'membered 
de tree did n' hab no years, en she wuz 
gittin' ready fer ter wuk her goopher 
»nixtry so ez ter turn Sandy back, w'en 
de mill-hands kotch holt er her en tied 
her arms wid a rope, en fasten' her to 
one er de posts in de sawmill ; en den 
dey started de saw up ag'in, en cut de 
log up inter bo'ds en scantlin's right 
befo* her eyes. But it wuz mighty hard 
wuk ; fer of all de sweekin', en moanin*, 
en groanin', dat log done it w'iles de 
saw wuz a-cuttin' thoo it. De saw wuz 
one er dese yer ole-timey, up-en-down 
saws, en hit tuk longer dem days ter 
saw a log 'en it do now. Dey greased 
de saw, but dat did n' stop de fuss ; hit 
kep' right on, tel fin'ly dey got de log 
all sawed up. 

" W'en de oberseah w'at run de saw- 

56 The Co7ijure Woman 

mill come fum breakfas', de ban's up en 
tell bim 'bout de crazy 'oman — ez dey 
s'posed sbe wuz — w'at bad come run- 
nin' in de sawmill, a-bollerin' en gwine 
on, en tried ter tb'ow berse'f befo' de 
saw. En de oberseab sent two er tb'ee 
er de ban's fer ter take Tenie back ter 
her marster's plantation. 

*' Tenie 'peared ter be out'n ber min' 
fer a long time, en ber marster ba' ter 
lock ber up in de smoke-'ouse 'tel sbe 
got ober ber spells. Mars Marrabo wuz 
monst'us mad, en bit would 'a' made yo' 
fiesb crawl fer ter bear bim cuss, 'caze be 
say de spekilater w'at be got Tenie fum 
had fooled 'im by wukkin' a crazy 'oman 
off on bim. Wiles Tenie wuz lock up 
in de smoke-'ouse. Mars Marrabo tuk 'n' 
haul de lumber fum de sawmill, en put 
up bis noo kitchen. 

"Wen Tenie got quiet' down, so sbe 
could be 'lowed ter go 'roun' de planta- 
tion, sbe up'n' tole her marster all erbout 

Pd Sandy 57 

Sandy en de pine-tree ; en w'en Mars 
Marrabo hearn it, he 'lowed she wuz de 
wuss 'stracted nigger he eber hearn of. 
He did n' know w'at ter do wid Tenie : 
fus' he thought he 'd put her in de po'- 
house ; but fin'ly, seein' ez she did n' 
do no harm ter nobody ner nuffin, but 
des went 'roun' moan in', en groanin', en 
shakin' her head, he 'eluded ter let her 
stay on de plantation en nuss de little 
nigger chilluns w'en dey mammies wuz 
ter wuk in de cotton-fiel'. 

"■ De noo kitchen Mars Marrabo bull' 
wuz n' much use, fer it had n' be'n put 
up long befo' de niggers 'mence' ter no- 
tice quare things erbout it. Dey could 
hear sump'n moanin* en groanin' 'bout 
de kitchen in de night-time, en w'en de 
win' would blow dey could hear sump'n 
a-hollerin' en sweekin' lack it wuz in 
great pain en sufferin'. En it got so 
atter a w'ile dat it wuz all Mars Mar- 
rabo's wife could do ter git a 'oman ter 

58 The Conjttre Woman 

stay in de kitchen in de daytime long 
ernuff ter do de cookin' ; en dey wa'n't 
naer nigger on de plantation w'at would n' 
rudder take forty dan ter go 'bout dat 
kitchen atter dark, — dat is, 'cep'n' Te- 
nie ; she did n' 'pear ter min* de ha'nts. 
She useter slip 'roun' at night, en set 
on de kitchen steps, en lean up agin de 
do'-jamb, en run on ter herse'f.wid some 
kine er foolishness w'at nobody could n' 
make out ; fer Mars Marrabo had th'eat- 
en' ter sen' her off' n de plantation ef 
she say anything ter any er de yuther 
niggers 'bout de pine-tree. But some- 
how er 'nudder de niggers foun' out all 
erbout it, en dey all knowed de kitchen 
wuz ha'nted by Sandy's sperrit. En 
bimeby hit got so Mars Marrabo's wife 
herse'f wuz skeered ter go out in de 
yard atter dark. 

** Wen it come ter dat, Mars Marrabo 
tuk en to' de kitchen down, en use' de 
lumber fer ter buil' dat ole school' ouse 

Pd Sandy 59 

w'at you er talkin' 'bout pullin' down. 
De school'ouse wuz n' use' 'cep'n' in de 
daytime, en on dark nights folks gwine 
'long de road would hear quare soun's 
en see quare things. Po' ole Tenie use- 
ter go down dere at night, en wander 
'roun' de school'ouse ; en de niggers all 
'lowed she went fer ter talk wid Sandy's 
sperrit. En one winter mawnin', w'en 
one er de boys went ter school early fer 
ter start de fire, w'at should he fin' but 
po' ole Tenie, layin* on de flo', stiff, en 
col', en dead. Dere did n' 'pear ter be 
nuffin pertickler de matter wid her, — 
she had des grieve' herse'f ter def fer 
her Sandy. Mars Marrabo didn' shed 
no tears. He thought Tenie wuz crazy, 
en dey wa'n't no tellin' w'at she mought 
do nex' ; en dey ain' much room in dis 
worl' fer crazy w'ite folks, let 'lone a 
crazy nigger. 

" Hit wa'n't long atter dat befo' Mars 
Marrabo sol' a piece er his track er Ian' 

6o TJie Conjure Woman 

ter Mars Dugal' McAdoo, — my ole 
marster, — en dat 's how de ole school- 
'ouse happen to be on yo' place. Wen 
de wah broke out, de school stop', en de 
ole school'ouse be'n stannin' empty ever 
sence, — dat is, 'cep'n' fer de ha'nts. 
En folks sez dat de ole school'ouse, er 
any yuther house w'at got any er dat 
lumber in it w'at wuz sawed out'n de 
tree w'at Sandy wuz turnt inter, is gwine 
ter be ha'nted tel de las' piece er plank 
is rotted en crumble' inter dus'." 

Annie had listened to this gruesome 
narrative with strained attention. 

"What a system it was," she ex- 
claimed, when Julius had finished, 
" under which such things were pos- 
sible ! " 

" What things .-* " I asked, in amaze- 
ment. "Are you seriously considering 
the possibility of a man's being turned 
into a tree t " 

"Oh, no," she replied quickly, "not 

Pd Sandy 6l 

that;" and then she murmured absently, 
and with a dim look in her fine eyes, 
"Poor Tenie!" 

We ordered the lumber, and returned 
home. That night, after we had gone 
to bed, and my wife had to all appear- 
ances been sound asleep for half an 
hour, she startled me out of an incipient 
doze by exclaiming suddenly, — 

" John, I don't believe I want my new 
kitchen built out of the lumber in that 
old schoolhouse." 

" You would n't for a moment allow 
yourself," I replied, with some asperity, 
"to be influenced by that absurdly im- 
possible yarn which Julius was spinning 
to-day ? " 

" I know the story is absurd," she 
replied dreamily, " and I am not so silly 
as to believe it. But I don't think I 
should ever be able to take any plea- 
sure in that kitchen if it were built out 
of that lumber. Besides, I think the 

62 TJie Conjure Woman 

kitchen would look better and last 
longer if the lumber were all new." 

Of course she had her way. I bought 
the new lumber, though not without 
grumbling. A week or two later I was 
called away from home on business. 
On my return, after an absence of sev- 
eral days, my wife remarked to me, — 

" John, there has been a split in the 
Sandy Run Colored Baptist Church, on 
the temperance question. About half 
the members have come out from' the 
main body, and set up for themselves. 
Uncle Julius is one of the seceders, and 
he came to me yesterday and asked if 
they might not hold their meetings in 
the old schoolhouse for the present." 

" I hope you did n't let the old rascal 
have it," I returned, with some warmth. 
I had just received a bill for the new 
lumber I had bought. 

"Well," she replied, "I couldn't re- 
fuse him the use of the house for so 
good a purpose." 

Pd Sandy 63 

*' And I '11 venture to say," I contin- 
ued, '' that you subscribed something 
toward the support of the new church ? " 

She did not attempt to deny it. 

**What are they going to do about 
the ghost ? " I asked, somewhat curious 
to know how Julius would get around 
this obstacle. 

'*0h," replied Annie, "Uncle Julius 
says that ghosts never disturb religious 
worship, but that if Sandy's spirit should 
happen to stray into meeting by mistake, 
no doubt the preaching would do it 


We found old Julius very useful when 
we moved to our new residence. He 
had a thorough knowledge of the neigh- 
borhood, was familiar with the roads 
and the watercourses, knew the qualities 
of the various soils and what they would 
produce, and where the best hunting 
and fishing were to be had. He was a 
marvelous hand in the management of 
horses and dogs, with whose mental 
processes he manifested a greater famil- 
iarity than mere use would seem to ac- 
count for, though it was doubtless due 
to the simplicity of a life that had kept 
him close to nature. Toward my tract 
of land and the things that were on it 
— the creeks, the swamps, the hills, the 
meadows, the stones, the trees — he 

Mars Jeemss Nightmare 65 

maintained a peculiar personal attitude, 
that might be called predial rather than 
proprietary. He had been accustomed, 
until long after middle life, to look upon 
himself as the property of another. 
When this relation was no longer possi- 
ble, owing to the war, and to his mas- 
ter's death and the dispersion of the 
family, he had been unable to break off 
entirely the mental habits of a lifetime, 
but had attached himself to the old 
plantation, of which he seemed to con- 
sider himself an appurtenance. We 
found him useful in many ways and 
entertaining in others, and my wife and 
I took quite a fancy to him. 

Shortly after w^e became established 
in our home on the sand-hills, Julius 
brought up to the house one day a 
colored boy of about seventeen, whom 
he introduced as his grandson, and for 
whom he solicited employment. I was 
not favorably impressed by the youth's 

66 T/ie Conjure Woman 

appearance, — quite the contrary, in fact ; 
but mainly to please the old man I 
hired Tom — his name was Tom — to 
help about the stables, weed the garden, 
cut wood and bring water, and in gen- 
eral to make himself useful about the 
outdoor work of the household. 

My first impression of Tom proved to 
be correct. He turned out to be very 
trifling, and I was much annoyed by his 
laziness, his carelessness, and his ap- 
parent lack of any sense of responsibility. 
I kept him longer than I should, on 
Julius's account, hoping that he might 
improve ; but he seemed to grow worse 
instead of better, and when I finally 
reached the limit of my patience, I dis- 
charged him. 

*' I am sorry, Julius," I said to the old 
man; "I should have liked to oblige you 
by keeping him ; but I can't stand Tom 
any longer. He is absolutely untrust- 

Mars Jecms s Nightmare 67 

"Yas, suh," replied Julius, with a 
deep sigh and a long shake of the head, 
" I knows he ain' much account, en dey 
ain' much 'pen'ence ter be put on 'im. 
But I wuz hopin* dat you mought make 
some 'lowance fuh a' ign'ant young nig- 
ger, suh, en gib 'im one mo' chance." 

But I had hardened my heart. I had 
always been too easily imposed upon, 
and had suffered too much from this 
weakness. I determined to be firm as 
a rock in this instance. 

** No, Julius," I rejoined decidedly, 
" it is impossible. I gave him more than 
a fair trial, and he simply won't do." 

When my wife and I set out for our 
drive in the cool of the evening, — after- 
noon is ** evening " in Southern parlance, 
— one of the servants put into the rock- 
away two large earthenware jugs. Our 
drive was to be down through the swamp 
to the mineral spring at the foot of the 
sand-hills beyond. The water of this 

6S The Conjure Woman 

spring was strongly impregnated with 
sulphur and iron, and, while not particu- 
larly agreeable of smell or taste, was 
used by us, in moderation, for sanitary 

When we reached the spring, we found 
a man engaged in cleaning it out. In 
answer to an inquiry he said that if we 
would wait five or ten minutes, his task 
would be finished and the spring in such 
condition that we could fill our jugs. 
We might have driven on, and come 
back by way of the spring, but there 
was a bad stretch of road beyond, and 
we concluded to remain where we were 
until the spring should be ready. We 
were in a cool and shady place. It was 
often necessary to wait awhile in North 
Carolina ; and our Northern energy had 
not been entirely proof against the influ- 
ences of climate and local custom. 

While we sat there, a man came sud- 
denly around a turn of the road ahead 

Mars Jeemss Nightmare 69 

of us. I recognized in him a neigh- 
bor with whom I had exchanged formal 
calls. He was driving a horse, appar- 
ently a high-spirited creature, possess- 
ing, so far as I could see at a glance, 
the marks of good temper and good 
breeding ; the gentleman, I had heard 
it suggested, was slightly deficient in 
both. The horse was rearing and plun- 
ging, and the man was beating him 
furiously with a buggy-whip. When he 
saw us, he flushed a fiery red, and, as 
he passed, held the r^ins with one hand, 
at some risk to his safety, lifted his hat, 
and bowed somewhat constrainedly as 
the horse darted by us, still panting and 
snorting with fear. 

" He looks as though he were ashamed 
of himself," I observed. 

" I 'm sure he ought to be," exclaimed 
my wife indignantly. " I think there 
is no worse sin and no more disgraceful 
thing than cruelty." 

70 The Conjure Woman 

"I quite agree with you," I assented. 

" A man w'at 'buses his hoss is gwine 
ter be ha'd on de folks w'at wuks fer 
'im," remarked Julius. " Ef young Mis- 
tah McLean doan min', he '11 hab a bad 
dream one er dese days, des lack 'is 
grandaddy had way back yander, long 
yeahs befo' de wah." 

"What was it about Mr. McLean's 
dream, Julius 1 " I asked. The man had 
not yet finished cleaning the spring, and 
we might as well put in time listening 
to Julius as in any other way. We had 
found some of his plantation tales quite 

"Mars Jeems McLean," said Julius, 
"wuz de grandaddy er dis yer gent'e- 
man w'at is des gone by us beatin' his 
hoss. He had a big plantation en a 
heap er niggers. Mars Jeems wuz a 
ha'd man, en monst'us stric' wid his 
ban's. Eber sence he growed up he 
nebber 'peared ter hab no feelin' fer no- 

Mars Jeans s Nightmare J I 

body. Wen his daddy, ole Mars John 
McLean, died, de plantation en all de 
niggers fell ter young Mars Jeems. He 
had be'n bad 'nuff befo', but it wa'n't 
long atterwa'ds 'tel he got so dey wuz 
no use in libbin' at all ef you ha' ter lib 
roun' Mars Jeems. His niggers wuz 
bleedzd ter slabe fum daylight ter da'k, 
w'iles yuther folks's did n' hafter wuk 
'cep'n' fum sun ter sun ; en dey did n* 
git no mo' ter eat dan dey oughter, en 
dat de coa'ses' kin'. Dey wa'n't 'lowed 
ter sing, ner dance, ner play de banjo 
w'en Mars Jeems wuz roun' de place ; 
fer Mars Jeems say he would n' hab no 
sech gwines-on, — said he bought his 
han's ter wuk, en not ter play, en w'en 
night come dey mus' sleep en res', so 
dey 'd be ready ter git up soon in de 
mawnin' en go ter dey wuk fresh en 

" Mars Jeems did n' 'low no co'tin' er 
juneseyin' roun' his plantation, — said 

72 The Conjure Woman 

he wanted his niggers ter put dey min's 
on dey wuk, en not be wastin' dey time 
wid no sech foolis'ness. En he would n' 
let his han's git married, — said he wuz 
n* raisin' niggers, but wuz raisin' cot- 
ton. En w'eneber any er de boys en 
gals 'ud 'mence ter git sweet on one 
ernudder, he 'd sell one er de yuther un 
'em, er sen' 'em way down in Robeson 
County ter his yuther plantation, whar 
dey could n' nebber see one ernudder. 

" Ef any er de niggers eber com- 
plained, dey got fo'ty; so co'se dey 
did n' many un 'em complain. But dey 
did n' lack it, des de same, en nobody 
could n' blame 'em, fer dey had a ha'd 
time. Mars Jeems did n' make no 'low- 
ance fer nachul bawn laz'ness, ner sick- 
ness, ner trouble in de min', ner nuffin ; 
he wuz des gwine ter git so much wuk 
outer eve'y han', er know de reason w'y. 

" Dey wuz one time de niggers 'lowed, 
fer a spell, dat Mars Jeems mought git 

Mars Jecvzs s Nightmare 73 

bettah. He tuk a lackin' ter Mars Mar- 
rabo McSwayne's oldes' gal, Miss Lib- 
bie, en useter go ober dere eve'y day 
er eve'y ebenin', en folks said dey wuz 
gwine ter git married sho'. But it 'pears 
dat Miss Libbie beared 'bout de gwines- 
on on Mars Jeems's plantation, en she des 
'lowed she could n' trus' herse'f wid no 
sech a man ; dat he mought git so useter 
'busin' his niggers dat he 'd 'mence ter 
'buse his wife atter he got useter habbin' 
her roun' de house. So she 'clared she 
wuz n' gwine ter hab nuffin mo' ter do 
wid young Mars Jeems. 

*'De niggers wuz all monst'us sorry 
w'en de match wuz bust' up, fer now 
Mars Jeems got wusser 'n he wuz befo' 
he sta'ted sweethea'tin'. De time he 
useter spen' co'tin' Miss Libbie he put 
in findin' fault wid de niggers, en all his 
bad feelin's 'ca'se Miss Libbie th'owed 
'im ober he 'peared ter try ter wuk off 
on de po' niggers. 


74 The Conjure Woman 

** Wiles Mars Jeems wuz co'tin' Miss 
Libbie, two er de ban's on de plantation 
had got ter settin' a heap er sto' by one 
ernudder. One un 'em wuz name' Solo- 
mon, en de yuther wuz a 'oman w'at 
wukked in de fiel' 'long er 'im — I fe'git 
dat 'Oman's name, but it doan 'mount 
ter much in de tale nohow. Now, whu- 
ther 'ca'se Mars Jeems wuz so tuk up 
wid his own junesey ^ dat he did n' paid 
no 'tention fer a w'ile ter w'at wuz gwine 
on 'twix' Solomon en his junesey, er 
whuther his own co'tin' made 'im kin' er 
easy on de co'tin' in de qua'ters, dey 
ain' no tellin'. But dey 's one thing sho', 
dat w'en Miss Libbie th'owed 'im ober, 
he foun' out 'bout Solomon en de gal 
monst'us quick, en gun Solomon fo'ty, 
en sont de gal down ter de Robeson 
County plantation, en tol' all de niggers 
ef he ketch 'em at any mo' sech foolish- 
ness, he wuz gwine ter skin 'em alibe en 
tan dey hides befo' dey ve'y eyes. Co'se 

1 Sweetheart. 

Mars Jecms s Nightmare 75 


he would n' 'a' done it, but he mought 'a 
made things wusser 'n dey wuz. So you 
kin 'magine dey wa'n't much lub-makin* 
in de qua'ters fer a long time. 

*' Mars Jeems useter go down ter de 
yuther plantation sometimes fer a week 
er mo', en so he had ter hab a oberseah 
ter look atter his wuk w'iles he 'uz gone. 
Mars Jeems's oberseah wuz a po' w'ite 
man name' Nick Johnson, — de niggers 
called 'im Mars Johnson ter his face, but 
behin' his back dey useter call 'im Ole 
Nick, en de name suited 'im ter a T. 
He wuz wusser 'n Mars Jeems ever da'ed 
ter be. Co'se de darkies did n' lack de 
way Mars Jeems used 'em, but he wuz 
de marster, en had a right ter do ez he 
please' ; but dis yer Ole Nick wa'n't 
nuffin but a po' buckrah, en all de nig- 
gers 'spised 'im ez much ez dey hated 
'im, fer he did n' own nobody, en wa'n't 
no bettah 'n a nigger, fer in dem days 
any 'spectable pusson would ruther be a 
nigger dan a po' w'ite man. 

'j^ The ConjiL7'e Woman 

*' Now, atter Solomon's gal had be'n 
sent away, he kep' feelin' mo' en mo' 
bad erbout it, 'tel fin'lly he 'lowed he 
wuz gwine ter see ef dey could n' be 
sump'n done fer ter git 'er back, en ter 
make Mars Jeems treat de darkies bet- 
tah. So he tuk a peck er co'n out'n de 
ba'n one night, en went ober ter see ole 
Aun' Peggy, de free-nigger cunjuh 'oman 
down by de Wim'l'ton Road. 

" Aun' Peggy listen' ter 'is tale, en 
ax' him some queshtuns, en den tol' 'im 
she 'd wuk her roots, en see w'at dey 'd 
say 'bout it, en ter-morrer night he sh'd 
come back ag'in en fetch ernudder peck 
er co'n, en den she 'd hab sump'n fer ter 
tell 'im. 

" So Solomon went back de nex' 
night, en sho' 'nuff, Aun' Peggy tol' 'im 
w'at ter do. She gun 'im some stuff 
w'at look' lack it be'n made by poundin' 
up some roots en yarbs wid a pestle in a 

Mars Jeew,ss Nightmare 77 

" * Dis yer stuff,' sez she, 'is monst'us 
pow'ful kin' er goopher. You take dis 
home, en gin it ter de cook, ef you kin 
trus' her, en tell her fer ter put it in yo' 
marster's soup de fus' cloudy day he hab 
okra soup fer dinnah. Min' you follers 
de d'rections.' 

" ' It ain' gwineter p'isen 'im, is it ? ' 
'ax' Solomon, gittin' kin' er skeered ; fer 
Solomon wuz a good man, en did n' want 
ter do nobody no rale ha'm. 

'* ' Oh, no,' sez ole Aun' Peggy, * it 's 
gwine ter do 'im good, but he'll hab a 
monst'us bad dream fus'. A mont' fum 
now you come down heah en lemme 
know how de goopher is wukkin'. Fer 
I ain' done much er dis kin' er cunj'in' 
er late yeahs, en I has ter kinder keep 
track un it ter see dat it doan 'complish 
no mo' d'n I 'lows fer it ter do. En I 
has ter be kinder keerful 'bout cunj'in' 
w'ite folks ; so be sho* en lemme know, 
w'ateber you do, des w'at is gwine on 
roun' de plantation.* 

78 The Co7tjure Woman 

" So Solomon say all right, en tuk de 
goopher mixtry up ter de big house en 
gun it ter de cook, en tol' her fer ter 
put it in Mars Jeems's soup de fus' 
cloudy day she hab okra soup fer din- 
nah. It happen' dat de ve'y nex' day 
wuz a cloudy day, en so de cook made 
okra soup fer Mars Jeems's dinnah, en 
put de powder Solomon gun her inter 
de soup, en made de soup rale good, so 
Mars Jeems eat a whole lot of it en 
'peared ter enjoy it. 

"De nex' mavvnin' Mars Jeems tol' de 
oberseah he wuz gwine 'way on some 
bizness, en den he wuz gwine ter his 
yuther plantation, down in Robeson 
County, en he did n' 'spec' he 'd be 
back fer a mont' er so. 

" * But,' sezee, * I wants you ter run 
dis yer plantation fer all it 's wuth. 
Dese yer niggers is gittin' monst'us 
triflin' en lazy en keerless, en dey ain' 
no 'pen'ence ter be put in 'em. I wants 

Mars Jeems' s Nightmare 79 

dat stop', en w'iles I 'm gone erway I 
wants de 'spenses cut 'way down en a 
heap mo' wuk done. Fac', I wants dis 
yer plantation ter make a reco'd dat '11 
show w'at kinder oberseah you is.' 

" Ole Nick did n' said nuffin but ' Yas, 
suh/ but de way he kinder grin' ter 
hisse'f en show' his big yaller teef, en 
snap' de rawhide he useter kyar roun' 
wid 'im, made col' chills run up and 
down de backbone er dem niggers w'at 
beared Mars Jeems a-talkin'. En dat 
night dey wuz mo'nin' en groanin' down 
in de qua'ters, fer de niggers all knowed 
w'at wuz comin'. 

" So, sho' 'nuff, Mars Jeems went 
erway nex' mawnin', en de trouble be- 
gun. Mars Johnson sta'ted off de ve'y 
fus' day fer ter see w'at he could hab ter 
show Mars Jeems w'en he come back. 
He made de tasks bigger en de rashuns 
littler, en w'en de niggers had wukked 
all day, he 'd fin' sump'n fer 'em ter do 

8o The Conjure Woman 

roun' de ba'n er som'ers atter da'k, fer 
ter keep 'em busy a' hour er so befo' 
dey went ter sleep. 

" About th'ee er fo' days atter Mars 
Jeems went erway, young Mars Dunkin 
IMcSwayne rode up ter de big house one 
day wid a nigger settin' behin' 'im in de 
buggy, tied ter de seat, en ax' ef Mars 
Jeems wuz home. Mars Johnson wuz 
at de house, and he say no. 

" * Well/ sez Mars Dunkin, sezee, * I 
fotch dis nigger ober ter Mistah McLean 
fer ter pay a bet I made wid 'im las' 
week w'en we wuz playin' kya'ds te'ged- 
der. I bet 'im a nigger man, en heah 's 
one I reckon '11 fill de bill. He wuz tuk 
up de yuther day fer a stray nigger, en 
he could n' gib no 'count er hisse'f, en 
so he wuz sol' at oction, en I bought 
'im. He 's kinder brash, but I knows 
yo' powers, Mistah Johnson, en I reckon 
ef anybody kin make 'im toe de ma'k, 
you is de man.' 

Mars Jeems s Nightmare 8 1 

" Mars Johnson grin' one er dem grins 
w'at show' all his snaggle teef, en make 
de niggers 'low he look lack de ole deb- 
bil, en sezee ter Mars Dunkin : — 

" * I reckon you kin trus' me, Mistah 
Dunkin, fer ter tame any nigger wuz 
eber bawn. De nigger doan lib w'at I 
can't take down in 'bout fo* days.' 

"Well, Ole Nick had 'is ban's full 
long er dat noo nigger ; en w'iles de res* 
er de darkies wuz sorry fer de po* man, 
dey 'lowed he kep' Mars Johnson so 
busy dat dey got along better 'n dey 'd 
*a' done ef de noo nigger had. nebber 

"De fus' thing dat happen*, Mars 
Johnson sez ter dis yer noo man : — 
• " < W'at 's yo* name. Sambo t ' 

" * My name ain' Sambo,' 'spon' de noo 

" * Did I ax you w'at yo' name wa'n't } ' 
sez Mars Johnson. * You wants ter be 
pa'tic'lar how you talks ter me. Now, 

82 The Conjiij^e Woman 

w'at is yo' name, en whar did you come 
f um ? ' 

*' * I dunno my name,' sez de nigger, 
* en I doan 'member whar I come fum. 
My head is all kin' er mix* up.' 

" * Yas,' sez Mars Johnson, ' I reckon 
I '11 ha' ter gib you sump'n fer ter cl'ar 
yo' head. At de same time, it '11 I'arn 
you some manners, en atter dis mebbe 
you '11 say ** suh " w'en you speaks ter 

" Well, Mars Johnson haul' off wid 
his rawhide en hit de noo nigger once. 
De noo man look' at Mars Johnson fer a 
minute ez ef he did n' know w'at ter make 
er dis yer kin' er I'arnin'. But w'en de 
oberseah raise' his w'ip ter hit him ag'in, 
de noo nigger des haul' off en made fer 
Mars Johnson, en ef some er de yuther 
niggers had n' stop' 'im, it 'peared ez ef 
he mought 'a' made it wa'm fer Ole Nick 
dere fer a w'ile. But de oberseah made 
de yuther niggers he'p tie de noo nigger 

Mars Jeems s Nightmare 83 

up, en den gun 'im fo'ty, wid a dozen er 
so th'owed in fer good measure, fer Ole 
Nick wuz nebber stingy wid dem kin' er 
rashuns. De nigger went on at a tar- 
rable rate, des lack a wil' man, but co'se 
he wuz bleedzd ter take his med'cine, 
fer he wuz tied up en could n' he'p his- 

" Mars Johnson lock' de noo nigger 
up in de ba'n, en did n' gib 'im nuffin ter 
eat fer a day er so, 'tel he got 'im kin'er 
quiet' down, en den he tu'nt 'im loose 
en put 'im ter wuk. De nigger 'lowed 
he wa'n't useter wukkin', en would n' 
wuk, en Mars Johnson gun 'im anudder 
fo'ty fer laziness en impidence, en let 
'im fas' a day er so mo', en den put 'im 
ter wuk ag'in. De nigger went ter wuk, 
but did n' 'pear ter know how ter han'le 
a hoe. It tuk des 'bout half de ober- 
seah's time lookin' atter 'im, en dat po' 
nigger got mo' lashin's en cussin's en 
cuffin's dan any fo' yuthers on de planta- 

84 The Conjttre Woman 

tion. He did n' mix' wid ner talk much 
ter de res' er de niggers, en could n' 
*pear ter git it th'oo his min' dat he wuz 
a slabe en had ter wuk en min' de w'ite 
folks, spite er de fac' dat Ole Nick gun 
'im a lesson eve'y day. En fin'lly Mars 
Johnson 'lowed dat he could n' do nuffin 
wid 'im ; dat ef he wuz his nigger, he 'd 
break his sperrit er break 'is neck, one 
er de yuther. But co'se he wuz only 
sont ober on trial, en ez he did n' gib 
satisfaction, en he had n' beared fum 
Mars Jeems 'bout w'en he wuz comin' 
back ; en ez he wuz feared he 'd git mad 
some time er *nuther en kill de nigger 
befo' he knowed it, he 'lowed he 'd bet- 
ter sen' 'im back whar he come fum. 
So he tied 'im up en sont 'im back ter 
Mars Dunkin. 

** Now, Mars Dunkin McSwayne wuz 
one er dese yer easy-gwine gent'emen 
w'at did n' lack ter hab no trouble wid 
niggers er nobody e'se, en he knowed ef 

Mars Jeemss Nightmare 85 


Mars Ole Nick could n' git 'long wid 
dis nigger, nobody could. So he tuk de 
nigger ter town dat same day, en sol' 
'im ter a trader w'at wuz gittin' up a 
gang er lackly niggers fer ter ship off on 
de steamboat ter go down de ribber ter 
Wim'l'ton en fum dere ter Noo Orleens. 

*'De nex' day atter de noo man had 
be'n sont away, Solomon wuz wukkin' 
in de cotton-fiel', en w'en he got ter de 
fence nex' ter de woods, at de een' er 
de row, who sh'd he see on de yuther 
side but ole Aun' Peggy. She beckon' 
ter 'im, — de oberseah wuz down on de 
yuther side er de fiel', — en sez she : — 

"■* W'y ain' you done come en 'po'ted 
ter me lack I tol' you .'' ' 

" * W'y, law ! Aun' Peggy,' sez Solo- 
mon, 'dey ain' nuffin ter 'po't. Mars 
Jeems went away de day atter we gun 
'im de goopher mixtry, en we ain' seed 
hide ner hair un 'im sence, en co'se we 
doan know nuffin 'bout w'at 'fee' it had 
on 'im.' 

86 The Conjure Woman 

" * I doan keer nuffin 'bout yo' Mars 
Jeems now ; w'at I wants ter know is 
w'at is be'n gwine on 'mongs' de nig- 
gers. Has you be'n gittin' 'long any 
better on de plantation ? ' 

" ' No, Aun' Peggy, we be'n gittin' 
'long wusser. Mars Johnson is stric'er 
'n he eber wuz befo', en de po' niggers 
doan ha'dly git time ter draw dey bref, 
en dey 'lows dey mought des ez well be 
dead ez alibe.' 

" * Uh huh ! ' sez Aun' Peggy, sez she, 
* I tol' you dat 'uz monst'us pow'ful 
goopher, en its wuk doan 'pear all at 

" * Long ez we had dat noo nigger 
heah,' Solomon went on, 'he kep' Mars 
Johnson busy pa't er de time ; but now 
he 's gone erway, I s'pose de res' un us 
'11 ketch it wusser 'n eber.' 

" ' W'at 's gone wid de noo nigger ? ' 
sez Aun' Peggy, rale quick, battin' her 
eyes en straight'nin' up. 

Mars Jeems s Nightmare 8y 

" ' Ole Nick done sont 'im back ter 
Mars Dunkin, who had fotch 'im heah 
fer ter pay a gambUn' debt ter Mars 
Jeems,' sez Solomon, 'en I heahs Mars 
Dunkin has sol' 'im ter a nigger-trader 
up in Patesville, w'at 's gwine ter ship 
'im off wid a gang ter-morrer.' 

" Ole Aun' Peggy 'peared ter git rale 
stirred up w'en Solomon tol' 'er dat, en 
sez she, shakin' her stick at 'im : — 

" * W'y did n' you come en tell me 
'bout dis noo nigger bein' sol' erway ? 
Did n' you promus me, ef I 'd gib you 
dat goopher, you 'd come en 'po't ter me 
'bout all w'at wuz gwine on on dis plan- 
tation ? Co'se I could 'a' foun' out fer 
myse'f, but I 'pended on yo' tellin' me, 
en now by not doin' it I 's feared you 
gwine spile my cunj'in'. You come 
down ter my house ter-night en do w'at 
I tells you, er I '11 put a spell on you 
dat '11 make yo' ha'r fall out so you '11 be 
bal', en yo' eyes drap out so you can't 

88 TJie Conjjire Woman 

see, en yo teef fall out so you can't eat, 
en yo' years grow up so you can't heah. 
Wen you is foolin' wid a cunjuh 'oman 
lack me, you got ter min' yo' P's en Q's 
er dey '11 be trouble sho' 'nuff.' 

" So co'se Solomon went down ter 
Aun' Peggy's dat night, en she gun 'im 
a roasted sweet'n' 'tater. 

" ^ You take dis yer sweet'n' 'tater,' 
sez she, — * I done goophered it 'speshly 
fer dat noo nigger, so you better not eat 
it yo'se'f er you '11 wush you had n', — 
en slip off ter town, en fin' dat strange 
man, en gib 'im dis yer sweet'n' 'tater. 
He mus' eat it befo' mawnin', sho', ef 
he doan wanter be sol' erway ter Noo 

" * But s'posen de patteroles ketch me, 
Aun' Peggy, w'at I gwine ter do ? ' sez 

" ' De patteroles ain' gwine tech you, 
but ef you doan fin' dat nigger, Fni 
gwine git you, en you '11 fin' me vvusser 'n 

Mars Jeems s Nightmare 89 

de patteroles. Des hoi' on a minute, en 
I '11 sprinkle you wid some er dis mixtry 
out'n dis yer bottle, so de patteroles 
can't see you, en you kin rub yo' feet 
wid some er dis yer grease out'n dis 
go'd, so you kin run fas', en rub some 
un it on yo' eyes so you kin see in de 
da'k ; en den you mus' fin' dat noo nig- 
ger en gib 'im dis yer 'tater, er you 
gwine ter hab mo' trouble on yo' ban's 
'n you eber had befo' in yo' life er eber 
will hab sence.' 

" So Solomon tuk de sweet'n' 'tater en 
sta'ted up de road fas' ez he could go, 
en befo' long he retch' town. He went 
right 'long by de patteroles, en dey did n' 
'pear ter notice 'im, en bimeby he foun' 
whar de strange nigger was kep', en he 
walked right pas' de gyard at de do' en 
foun' 'im. De nigger could n' see 'im, 
ob co'se, en he could n' 'a' seed de nig- 
ger in de da'k, ef it had n' be'n fer de 
stuff Aun' Peggy gun 'im ter rub on 'is 

90 The Conjtcre Woman 

eyes. De nigger wuz layin' in a co'nder, 
'sleep, en Solomon des slip' up ter 'im, 
en hilt dat sweet'n' 'tater 'fo' de nigger's 
nose, en he des nach'ly retch' up wid 
his han', en tuk de 'tater en eat it in his 
sleep, widout knowin' it. Wen Solo- 
mon seed he 'd done eat de 'tater, he 
went back en tol' Aun' Peggy, en den 
went home ter his cabin ter sleep, 'way 
'long 'bout two o'clock in de mawnin'. 

" De nex' day wuz Sunday, en so de 
niggers had a little time ter deyse'ves. 
Solomon wuz kinder 'sturb' in his min' 
thinkin' 'bout his junesey w'at 'uz gone 
away, en wond'rin' w'at Aun' Peggy had 
ter do wid dat noo nigger ; en he had 
sa'ntered up in de woods so 's ter be by 
hisse'f a little, en at de same time ter 
look atter a rabbit-trap he 'd sot down in 
de aidge er de swamp, w'en who sh'd he 
see stan'in' unner a tree but a w'ite man. 

" Solomon did n' knowed de w'ite man 
at fus', 'tel de w'ite man spoke up ter 'im 

Mars Jeems's Nightmare 91 

** * Is dat you, Solomon ? ' sezee. 

" Den Solomon reco'nized de voice. 

" * Fer de Lawd's sake, Mars Jeems ! 
is dat you ? ' 

" * Yas, Solomon/ sez his marster, 
* dis is me, er w'at 's lef er me.' 

" It wa'n't no wonder Solomon had n* 
knowed Mars Jeems at fus', fer he wuz 
dress' lack a po' w'ite man, en wuz bare- 
footed, en look* monst'us pale en peaked, 
ez ef he 'd des come th'oo a ha'd spell er 

" * You er lookin' kinder po'ly. Mars 
Jeems,' sez Solomon. * Is you be'n 
sick, suh } ' 

"'No, Solomon,' sez Mars Jeems, 
shakin' his head, en speakin' sorter slow 
en sad, * I ain* be'n sick, but I 's had a 
monst'us bad dream, — fac', a reg'lar, 
nach'ul nightmare. But tell me how 
things has be'n gwine on up ter de plan- 
tation sence I be'n gone, Solomon.' 

" So Solomon up en tol' 'im 'bout de 

92 TJie Cojtjtire Woman 

craps, en 'bout de bosses en de mules, 
en 'bout de cows en de hawgs. En 
w'en he 'mence' ter tell 'bout de noo 
nigger, Mars Jeems prick' up 'is yeahs 
en listen', en eve'y now en den he 'd say, 
* Uh huh ! uh huh ! ' en nod 'is head. 
En bimeby, w'en he 'd ax' Solomon some 
mo' queshtuns, he sez, sezee : — 

" * Now, Solomon, I doan want you 
ter say a wo'd ter nobody 'bout meetin' 
me heah, but I wants you ter slip up ter 
de house, en fetch me some clo's en 
some shoes, — I fergot ter tell you dat 
a man rob' me back yander on de road 
en swap' clo's wid me widout axin' me 
whuther er no, — but you neenter say 
nuffin 'bout dat, nuther. You go en 
fetch me some clo's heah, so nobody 
won't see you, en keep yo' mouf shet, 
en I '11 gib you a dollah.' 

" Solomon wuz so 'stonish' he lack ter 
fell ober in his tracks, w'en Mars Jeems 
promus' ter gib 'im a dollah. Dey su'- 

Mars Jeemss Nightmare 93 

t'nly wuz a change come ober Mars 
Jeems, w'en he offer' one er his niggers 
dat much money. Solomon 'mence' ter 
'spec' dat Aun* Peggy's cunj'ation had 
be'n wukkin' monst'us strong. 

" Solomon fotch Mars Jeems some 
clo's en shoes, en dat same eb'nin' Mars 
Jeems 'peared at de house, en let on lack 
he des dat minute got home fum Robe- 
son County. Mars Johnson was all 
ready ter talk ter 'im, but Mars Jeems 
sont 'im wo'd he wa'n't feelin' ve'y well 
dat night, en he 'd see 'im ter-morrer. 

" So nex' mawnin' atter breakfus* 
Mars Jeems sont fer de oberseah, en ax' 
'im fer ter gib 'count er his styoa'd- 
ship. Ole Nick tol' Mars Jeems how 
much wuk be'n done, en got de books 
en showed 'im how much money be'n 
save'. Den Mars Jeems ax' 'im how de 
darkies be'n behabin', en Mars Johnson 
say dey be'n behabin' good, most un 
'em, en dem w'at did n' behabe good at 

94 The Conjtire Woman 

fus' change dey conduc' atter he got 
holt un 'em a time er two. 

"'All,' sezee, * 'cep'n* de noo nigger 
Mistah Dunkin fotch ober heah en lef 
on trial, w'iles you wuz gone.' 

" * Oh, yas,' 'lows Mars Jeems, * tell 
me all 'bout dat noo nigger. I beared a 
little 'bout dat quare noo nigger las' 
night, en it wuz des too redik'lus. Tell 
me all 'bout dat noo nigger.' 

"So seein' Mars Jeems so good-na- 
chu'd 'bout it, Mars Johnson up en tol' 
*im how he tied up de noo ban' de fus' 
day en gun 'im fo'ty 'ca'se he would n* 
tell 'im 'is name. 

" * Ha, ha, ha ! ' sez Mars Jeems, laf- 
fin* fit ter kill, * but dat is too funny f er 
any use. Tell me some mo' 'bout dat 
noo nigger.' 

" So Mars Johnson went on en tol* 
*im how he had ter starbe de noo nigger 
'fo' he could make 'im take holt er a 

Mars Jeems^s Nightmare 95 

" * Dat wuz de beatinis' notion fer a 
nigger,' sez Mars Jeems, 'puttin' on airs, 
des lack he wuz a w'ite man ! En I 
reckon you did n' do nuffin ter 'im ? ' 

" * Oh, no, suh,' sez de oberseah, grin- 
nin' lack a chessy-cat, * I did n' do nuffin 
but take de hide off' n 'im.' 

**Mars Jeems lafft en lafft, 'tel it 
'peared lack he wuz des gwine ter bu'st. 
* Tell me some mo' 'bout dat noo nig- 
ger, oh, tell me some mo'. Dat noo 
nigger int'rusts me, he do, en dat is a 

" Mars Johnson did n' quite un'erstan* 
w'y Mars Jeems sh'd make sich a great 
'miration 'bout de noo nigger, but co'se 
he want' ter please de gent'eman w'at 
hi'ed 'im, en so he 'splain' all 'bout how 
many times he had ter cowhide de noo 
nigger, en how he made 'im do tasks 
twicet ez big ez some er de yuther ban's, 
en how he 'd chain 'im up in de ba'n at 
night en feed 'im on co'n-bread en water. 

96 The Conjure Woman 

" * Oh ! but you is a monst'us good 
oberseah ; you is de bes' oberseah in 
dis county, Mistah Johnson,' sez Mars 
Jeems, w'en de oberseah got th'oo wid 
his tale ; ' en dey ain* nebber be'n no nig- 
ger-breaker lack you roun' heah befo'. 
En you desarbes great credit fer sendin' 
dat nigger 'way befo' you sp'ilt 'im fer 
de market. Fac', you is sech a monst'us 
good oberseah, en you is got dis yer 
plantation in sech fine shape, dat I 
reckon I doan need you no mo'. You 
is got dese yer darkies so well train' dat 
I 'spec' I kin run 'em myse'f fum dis 
time on. But I does wush you had 'a' 
hilt on ter dat noo nigger 'tel I got 
home, fer I 'd 'a' lack ter 'a' seed 'im, I 
su't'nly should.' 

"De oberseah wuz so 'stonish* he 
did n' ha'dly know w'at ter say, but 
fin'lly he ax' Mars Jeems ef he would n* 
gib 'im a riccommen' fer ter git ernudder 

Mars Jeemss Nightmare 97 

" * No, suh,' sez Mars Jeems, * some- 
how er 'nuther I doan lack yo' looks sence 
I come back dis time, en I 'd much 
ruther you would n' stay roun' heah. 
Fac', I 's feared ef I 'd meet you alone in 
de woods some time, I mought wanter 
ham you. But layin' dat aside, I be'n 
lookin' ober dese yer books er yo'n w'at 
you kep' w'iles I wuz 'way, en fer a yeah 
er so back, en dere 's some figgers w'at 
ain' des cl'ar ter me. I ain' got no time 
fer ter talk 'bout 'em now, but I 'spec' 
befo' I settles wid you fer dis las' mont', 
you better come up heah ter-morrer, 
atter I 's look' de books en 'counts ober 
some mo', en den we '11 straighten ou* 
business all up.' 

" Mars Jeems 'lowed atterwa'ds dat 
he wuz des shootin' in de da'k w'en he 
said dat 'bout de books, but howsom- 
eber. Mars Nick Johnson lef dat naber- 
hood 'twix' de nex' two suns, en nobody 
roun' dere nebber seed hide ner hair 

gS The Conjure Woman 

un 'im sence. En all de darkies t'ank 
de Lawd, en 'lowed it wuz a good rid- 
dance er bad rubbage. 

" But all dem things I done tol' you 
ain' nuffin 'side'n de change w'at come 
ober Mars Jeems fum dat time on. 
Aun' Peggy's goopher had made a noo 
man un 'im enti'ely. De nex' day atter 
he come back, he tol' de ban's dey neen- 
ter wuk on'y fum sun ter sun, en he cut 
dey tasks down so dey did n' nobody 
hab ter stan' ober 'em wid a rawhide er 
a hick'ry. En he 'lowed ef de niggers 
want ter hab a dance in de big ba'n any 
Sad'day night, dey mought hab it. En 
bimeby, w'en Solomon seed how good 
Mars Jeems wuz, he ax 'im ef he would 
n' please sen' down ter de yuther plan- 
tation fer his junesey. Mars Jeems say 
su't'nly, en gun Solomon a pass en a 
note ter de oberseah on de yuther plan- 
tation, en sont Solomon down ter Robe- 
son County wid a hoss en buggy fer ter 

Mars Jeems's Nightmare 99 

fetch his junesey back. Wen de nig- 
gers see how fine Mars Jeems gwine 
treat 'em, dey all tuk ter sweethea'tin' 
en juneseyin' en singin' en dancin', en 
eight er ten couples got married, en 
bimeby eve'ybody 'mence' ter say Mars 
Jeems McLean got a finer plantation, 
en slicker-lookin' niggers, en dat he 'uz 
makin' mo' cotton en co'n, dan any 
yuther gent'eman in de county. En 
Mars Jeems's own junesey. Miss Libbie, 
beared 'bout de noo gwines-on on Mars 
Jeems's plantation, en she change' her 
min' 'bout Mars Jeems en tuk 'im back 
ag'in, en 'fo' long dey had a fine weddin', 
en all de darkies had a big feas', en dey 
wuz fiddlin' en dancin' en funnin' en 
frolic' in' fum sundown 'tel mawnin'." 

*' And they all lived happy ever after," 
I said, as the old man reached a full stop. 

" Yas, suh," he said, interpreting my 
remarks as a question, " dey did. Solo- 
mon useter say," he added, " dat Aun' 

100 The Conjure Woman 

Peggy's goopher had turnt Mars Jeems 
ter a nigger, en dat dat noo han' wuz 
Mars Jeems hisse'f. But co'se Solomon 
did n* das' ter let on 'bout w'at he 'spi- 
cioned, en ole Aun' Peggy would *a* 'nied 
it ef she had be'n ax', fer she 'd 'a* got in 
trouble sho', ef it 'uz knowed she 'd be'n 
cunj'in' de w'ite folks. 

"Dis yer tale goes ter show," con- 
cluded Julius sententiously, as the man 
came up and announced that the spring 
was ready for us to get water, " dat 
w'ite folks w'at is so ha'd en stric', en 
doan make no 'lowance fer po' ign'ant 
niggers w'at ain' had no chanst ter I'arn, 
is li'ble ter hab bad dreams, ter say de 
leas', en dat dem w'at is kin' en good 
ter po' people is sho' ter prosper en git 
*long in de worl*." 

" That is a very strange story. Uncle 
Julius," observed my wife, smiling, *' and 
Solomon's explanation is quite improb- 


MaTS Jeems s Nightmare loi 

"Yes, Julius," said I, "that was 
powerful goopher. I am glad, too, that 
you told us the moral of the story ; it 
might have escaped us otherwise. By 
the way, did you make that up all by 
yourself ? " 

The old man's face assumed an in- 
jured look, expressive more of sorrow 
than of anger, and shaking his head he 
replied : — 

" No, suh, I heared dat tale befo' you 
er Mis' Annie dere wuz bawn, suh. My 
mammy tol' me dat tale w'en I wa'n't 
mo' d'n knee-high ter a hopper-grass." 

I drove to town next morning, on 
some business, and did not return until 
noon ; and after dinner I had to visit 
a neighbor, and did not get back until 
supper-time. I was smoking a cigar on 
the back piazza in the early evening, 
when I saw a familiar figure carrying a 
bucket of water to the barn. I called 
my wife. 

102 The Conjttre Woman 

" My dear," I said severely, " what is 
that rascal doing here ? I thought I dis- 
charged him yesterday for good and 

"Oh, yes," she answered, "I forgot 
to tell you. He was hanging round the 
place all the morning, and looking so 
down in the mouth, that I told him that 
if he would try to do better, we would 
give him one more chance. He seems 
so grateful, and so really in earnest in 
his promises of amendment, that I 'm 
sure you '11 not regret taking him back." 

I was seriously enough annoyed to let 
my cigar go out. I did not share my 
wife's rose-colored hopes in regard to 
Tom ; but as I did not wish the servants 
to think there was any conflict of au- 
thority in the household, I let the boy 


Sunday was sometimes a rather dull 
day at our place. In the morning, when 
the weather was pleasant, my wife and 
I would drive to town, a distance of 
about five miles, to attend the church 
of our choice. The afternoons we spent 
at home, for the most part, occupying 
ourselves with the newspapers and maga- 
zines, and the contents of a fairly good 
library. We had a piano in the house, 
on which my wife played with skill and 
feeling. I possessed a passable baritone 
voice, and could accompany myself in- 
differently well when my wife was not 
by to assist me. When these resources 
failed us, we were apt to find it a little 

One Sunday afternoon in early spring, 

I04 The Conjure Woman 

• — the balmy spring of North Carolina, 
when the air is in that ideal balance 
between heat and cold where one wishes 
it could always remain, — my wife and 
I were seated on the front piazza, she 
wearily but conscientiously ploughing 
through a missionary report, while I fol- 
lowed the impossible career of the 
blonde heroine of a rudimentary novel. 
I had thrown the book aside in disgust, 
when I saw Julius coming through the 
yard, under the spreading elms, which 
were already in full leaf. He wore his 
Sunday clothes, and advanced with a 
dignity of movement quite different 
from his week-day slouch. 

" Have a seat, Julius," I said, pointing 
to an empty rocking-chair. 

" No, thanky, boss, I '11 des set here 
on de top step." 

"Oh, no. Uncle Julius," exclaimed 
Annie, " take this chair. You will find 
it much more comfortable." 

The Conjurer s Revenge 105 

The old man grinned in appreciation 
of her solicitude, and seated himself 
somewhat awkwardly. 

''Julius," I remarked, *' I am thinking 
of setting out scuppernong vines on that 
sand-hill where the three persimmon- 
trees are ; and while I 'm working there, 
I think I '11 plant watermelons between 
the vines, and get a little something to 
pay for my first year's work. The new 
railroad will be finished by the middle 
of summer, and I can ship the melons 
North, and get a good price for them." 

" Ef you er gwine ter hab any mo' 
ploughin' ter do," replied Julius, " I 'spec* 
you '11 ha' ter buy ernudder creetur, 'ca'se 
hit 's much ez dem bosses kin do ter 
'ten' ter de wuk dey got now." 

'' Yes, I had thought of that. I think 
I '11 get a mule ; a mule can do more 
work, and does n't require as much at- 
tention as a horse." 

" I would n' 'vise you ter buy no mule," 

io6 The Conju7'e Woman 

remarked Julius, with a shake of his 

" Why not ? " 

" Well, you may 'low hit 's all foolis*- 
ness, but ef I wuz in yo' place, I would n' 
buy no mule." 

" But that is n't a reason ; what objec- 
tion have you to a mule ? " 

"Fac' is," continued the old man, in 
a serious tone, *' I doan lack ter dribe 
a mule. I 's alluz afeared I mought be 
imposin' on some human creetur ; eve'y 
time I cuts a mule wid a hick'ry, 'pears 
ter me mos' lackly I 's cuttin' some er 
my own relations, er somebody e'se w'at 
can't he'p deyse'ves." 

" What put such an absurd idea into 
your head ? " I asked. 

My question was followed by a short 
silence, during which Julius seemed en- 
gaged in a mental struggle. 

" I dunno ez hit 's wuf w'ile ter tell 
you dis," he said, at length. " I doan 

The Conjurer^ s Revenge 107 

% - ■ I - — - .—. — - ■ ■ ■ - - w~ m 

ha'dly 'spec' fer you ter b'lieve it. 
Does you 'member dat club-footed man 
w'at hilt de boss fer you de yuther day 
w'en you was gittin' out'n de rockaway 
down ter Mars Archie McMillan's sto' ? " 

" Yes, I believe I do remember seeing 
a club-footed man there." 

" Did you eber see a club-footed nig- 
ger befo' er sence } " 

"No, I can't remember that I ever 
saw a club-footed colored man," I re- 
plied, after a moment's reflection. 

** You en Mis* Annie would n' wanter 
b'lieve me, ef I wuz ter 'low dat dat man 
was oncet a mule } " 

"No," I replied, "I don't think it 
very likely that you could make us be- 
lieve it." 

" Why, Uncle Julius ! " said Annie 
severely, " what ridiculous nonsense ! " 

This reception of the old man's state- 
ment reduced him to silence, and it 
required some diplomacy on my part to 

io8 The Conjure Womaii 

induce him to vouchsafe an explanation. 
The prospect of a long, dull afternoon 
was not alluring, and I was glad to have 
the monotony of Sabbath quiet relieved 
by a plantation legend. 

"Wen I wuz a young man," began 
Julius, when I had finally prevailed upon 
him to tell us the story, " dat club-footed 
nigger — his name is Primus — use' ter 
b'long ter ole Mars Jim McGee ober on 
de Lumbe'ton plank-road. I use' ter go 
ober dere ter see a 'oman w'at libbed on 
de plantation; dat's how I come ter 
know all erbout it. Dis yer Primus wuz 
de livelies' han' on de place, alluz a-dan- 
cin', en drinkin', en runnin' roun', en 
singin', en pickin' de banjo ; 'cep'n' once 
in a w'ile, w'en he 'd 'low he wa'n't 
treated right 'bout sump'n ernudder, 
he'd git so sulky en stubborn dat de 
w'ite folks could n' ha'dly do nuffin wid 


" It wuz 'gin' de rules fer any er de 

TJie Conjurer s Revenge 109 

ban's ter go 'way fum de plantation at 
night ; but Primus did n' min* de rules, 
en went w'en be felt lack it ; en de w'ite 
folks purten' lack dey did n' know it, fer 
Primus was dange'ous w'en he got in 
dem stubborn spells, en dey 'd ruther 
not fool wid 'im. 

" One night in de spring er de year, 
Primus slip' off fum de plantation, en 
went down on de Wim'l'ton Road ter a 
dance gun by some er de free niggers 
down dere. Dey wuz a fiddle, en a 
banjo, en a jug gwine roun' on de out- 
side, en Primus sung en dance' 'tel 'long 
*bout two o'clock in de mawnin', w'en 
he start' fer home. Ez he come erlong 
back, he tuk a nigh-cut 'cross de cotton- 
fiel's en 'long by de aidge er de Min'al 
Spring Swamp, so ez ter git shet er de 
patteroles w'at rid up en down de big 
road fer ter keep de darkies fum runnin' 
roun' nights. Primus was sa'nt'rin' 'long, 
studyin' 'bout de good time he 'd had 

no The Conjure Woman 

wid de gals, w'en, ez he wuz gwine by 
a fence co'nder, w'at sh'd he heah but 
sump'n grunt. He stopped a minute 
ter listen, en he beared sump'n grunt 
ag'in. Den he went ober ter de fence 
whar he heard de fuss, en dere, layin' in 
de fence co'nder, on a pile er pine straw, 
he seed a fine, fat shote. 

" Primus look' ha'd at de shote, en 
den sta'ted home. But somehow er 
'nudder he could n' git away fum dat 
shote ; w'en he tuk one step for'ards 
wid one foot, de yuther foot 'peared ter 
take two steps back'ards, en so he kep' 
nachly gittin' closeter en closeter ter de 
shote. It was de beatin'es' thing ! De 
shote des 'peared ter cha'm Primus, en 
fus* thing you know Primus foun' his- 
se'f 'way up de road wid de shote on 
his back. 

"Ef Primus had 'a' knowed whose 
shote dat wuz, he 'd 'a' manage' ter git 
pas* it somehow er 'nudder. Ez it hap- 

The Conjurer s Revenge 1 1 1 

pen', de shote b'long ter a cunjuh man 
w'at libbecl down in de free-nigger sett'e- 
ment. Co'se de cunjuh man did n' hab 
ter wuk his roots but a little w'ile 'fo' 
he foun' out who tuk his shote, en den 
de trouble begun. One mawnin*, a day 
er so later, en befo' he got de shote eat 
up, Primus did n' go ter wuk w'en de 
hawn blow, en w'en de oberseah wen' 
ter look fer him, dey wa* no trace er 
Primus ter be 'skivered nowhar. W'en 
he did n' come back in a day er so mo', 
eve'ybody on de plantation 'lowed he 
had runned erway. His marster a'ver- 
tise' him in de papers, en offered a big 
reward fer 'im. De nigger - ketchers 
fotch out dey dogs, en track' 'im down 
ter de aidge er de swamp, en den de 
scent gun out ; en dat was de las' any- 
body seed er Primus fer a long, long 

"Two er th'ee weeks atter Primus 
disappear', his marster went ter town 

112 The Conjure VVomaft 

one Sad'day. Mars Jim was stan'in' in 
front er Sandy Campbell's bar-room, up 
by de ole wagon-ya'd, w'en a po' w'ite 
man fum down on de Wim'l'ton Road 
come up ter 'im en ax' 'im, kinder keer- 
less lack, ef he did n' wanter buy a mule. 

"'I dunno,' says Mars Jim; 'it 'pen's 
on de mule, en on de price. Whar is de 
mule ? ' 

"'Des 'roun' heah back er ole Tom 
McAllister's sto',' says de po' w'ite man. 

" *I reckon I '11 hab a look at de mule,' 
says Mars Jim, * en ef he suit me, I dunno 
but w'at I mought buy 'im.' 

" So de po' w'ite man tuk Mars Jim 
'roun' back er de sto', en dere stood a 
monst'us fine mule. W'en de mule see 
Mars Jim, he gun a whinny, des lack he 
knowed him befo'. Mars Jim look' at 
de mule, en de mule 'peared ter be soun' 
en strong. Mars Jim 'lowed dey 'peared 
ter be sump'n fermilyus 'bout de mule's 
face, 'spesh'ly his eyes ; but he had n' 

The Conjurer s Revefige 113 

los' naer mule, en did n' hab no recom- 
memb'ance er habin' seed de mule befo*. 
He ax' de po' buckrah whar he got de 
mule, en de po' buckrah say his brer 
raise' de mule down on Rockfish Creek. 
Mars Jim was a little s'picious er seein' 
a po' w'ite man wid sech a fine creetur, 
but he fin'lly 'greed ter gib de man fifty 
dollars fer de mule, — 'bout ha'f w'at a 
good mule was wuf dem days. 

**He tied de mule behin' de buggy 
w'en he went home, en put 'im ter 
ploughin' cotton de nex' day. De mule 
done mighty well fer th'ee er fo' days, 
en den de niggers 'mence' ter notice 
some quare things erbout him. Dey 
wuz a medder on de plantation whar dey 
use' ter put de bosses en mules ter 
pastur'. Hit was fence' off fum de corn- 
fiel' on one side, but on de yuther side'n 
de pastur' was a terbacker-patch w'at 
wa'n't fence' off, 'ca'se de beastisses 
doan none un 'em eat terbacker. Dey 

114 TJie Conjure Woman 

doan know w'at 's good ! Terbacker is 
lack religion, de good Lawd made it fer 
people, en dey ain* no yuther creetur 
w'at kin 'preciate it. De darkies notice* 
dat de fus' thing de new mule done, 
w'en he was turnt inter de pastur', wuz 
ter make fer de terbacker-patch. Co'se 
dey didn' think nuffin un it, but nex' 
mawnin', w'en dey went ter ketch 'im, 
dey 'skivered dat he had eat up two whole 
rows er terbacker plants. Atter dat dey 
had ter put a halter on 'im, en tie 'im 
ter a stake, er e'se dey would n' 'a' been 
naer leaf er terbacker lef in de patch. 

" Ernudder day one er de ban's, name' 
'Dolphus, hitch' de mule up, en dribe up 
here ter dis yer vimya'd, — dat wuz w'en 
ole Mars Dugal' own' dis place. Mars 
Dugal' had kilt a yearlin', en de naber 
w'ite folks all sont ober fer ter git some 
fraish beef, en Mars Jim had sont 'Dol- 
phus fer some too. Dey wuz a wine- 
press in de ya'd whar 'Dolphus lef de 

The Conjurer's Revenge 115 

mule a-stan'in', en right in front er de 
press dey wuz a tub er grape-juice, des 
pressed out, en a little ter one side a 
bairl erbout half full er wine w'at had 
be'n stan'in' two er th'ee days, en had 
begun ter git sorter sha'p ter de tas'e. 
Dey wuz a couple er bo'ds on top er dis 
yer bairl, wid a rock laid on 'em ter hoi' 
'em down. Ez I wuz a-sayin', 'Dolphus 
lef de mule stan'in' in de ya'd, en went 
inter de smoke-house fer ter git de beef. 
Bimeby, w'en he come out, he seed de 
mule a-stagg'rin' 'bout de ya'd ; en 'fo' 
'Dolphus could git dere ter fin' out w'at 
wuz de matter, de mule fell right ober 
on his side, en laid dere des' lack he was 

"All de niggers 'bout de house run 
out dere fer ter see w'at wuz de matter. 
Some say de mule had de colic ; some 
say one thing en some ernudder ; 'tel 
bimeby one er de ban's seed de top wuz 
off'n de bairl, en run en looked in. 

Ii6 The Conjure Woman 

" * Fo' de Lawd ! ' he say, * dat mule 
drunk ! he be'n drinkin' de wine.' En 
sho' 'nuff, de mule had pas' right by 
de tub er fraish grape-juice en push' 
de kiver off' n de bairl, en drunk two er 
th'ee gallon er de wine w'at had been 
stan'in' long ernough fer ter begin ter 
git sha'p. 

" De darkies all made a great 'miration 
'bout de mule gittin' drunk. Dey never 
had n' seed nuffin lack it in dey bawn 
days. Dey po'd water ober de mule, en 
tried ter sober 'im up ; but it wa'n't no 
use, en 'Dolphus had ter take de beef 
home on his back, en leabe de mule 
dere, 'tel he slep' off 'is spree. 

" I doan 'member whe'r I tol' you er 
no, but w'en Primus disappear' fum de 
plantation, he lef a wife behin' 'im, — a 
monst'us good-lookin' yaller gal, name' 
Sally. W'en Primus had be'n gone a 
mont' er so, Sally 'mence' fer ter git lone- 
some, en tuk up wid ernudder young 

The Conjurer s Revenge 117 

man name' Dan, w'at b'long' on de same 
plantation. One day dis yer Dan tuk 
de noo mule out in de cotton-fiel' fer 
ter plough, en w'en dey wuz gwine 'long 
de tu'n-row, who sh'd he meet but dis 
yer Sally. Dan look' 'roun' en he did n' 
see de oberseah nowhar, so he stop' a 
minute fer ter run on wid Sally. 

" * Hoddy, honey,' sezee. * How you 
feelin' dis m awn in' ? ' 

" * Fus' rate,' 'spon' Sally. 

" Dey wuz lookin' at one ernudder, 
en dey did n' naer one un 'em pay no 
'tention ter de mule, who had turnt 'is 
head 'roun' en wuz lookin' at Sally ez 
ha'd ez he could, en stretchin' 'is neck 
en raisin' 'is years, en whinnyin' kinder 
sof ter hisse'f. 

" ' Yas, honey,' 'lows Dan, * en you 
gwine ter feel fus' rate long ez you 
sticks ter me. Fer I 's a better man dan 
dat low-down runaway nigger Primus 
dat you be'n wastin' yo' time wid.' 


Ii8 TJie Conjure Woman 

** Dan had let go de plough-handle, en 
had put his arm 'roun' Sally, en wuz 
des gwine ter kiss her, w'en sump'n 
ketch' 'im by de scruff er de neck en 
flung 'im 'way ober in de cotton-patch. 
W'en he pick' 'isse'f up, Sally had gone 
kitin' down de tu'n-row, en de mule wuz 
Stan' in' dere lookin' ez ca'm en peaceful 
ez a Sunday mawnin'. 

" Fus' Dan had 'lowed it wuz de ober- 
seah w'at had cotch' 'im wastin' 'is time. 
But dey wa'n't no oberseah in sight, 
so he 'eluded it must 'a' be'n de mule. 
So he pitch' inter de mule en lammed 
'im ez ha'd ez he could. De mule tuk 
it all, en 'peared ter be ez 'umble ez a 
mule could be; but w'en dey wuz makin* 
de turn at de een' er de row, one er de 
plough-lines got under de mule's hin' 
leg. Dan retch' down ter git de line out, 
sorter keerless like, w'en de mule haul' 
off en kick him clean ober de fence 
inter a brier-patch on de yuther side. 

The Conjurer'' s Revenge 119 

" Dan wuz mighty so' fum 'is woun's 
en scratches, en wuz laid up fer two er 
th'ee days. One night de noo mule 
got out'n de pastur', en went down to 
de quarters. Dan wuz layin' dere on 
his pallet, w'en he heard sump'n bangin' 
erway at de side er his cabin. He 
raise' up on one shoulder en look' roun', 
w'en w'at should he see but de noo 
mule's head stickin* in de winder, wid 
his lips drawed back over his toofs, grin- 
nin' en snappin' at Dan des' lack he 
wanter eat 'im up. Den de mule went 
roun' ter de do', en kick' erway lack he 
wanter break de do' down, 'tel bimeby 
somebody come 'long en driv him back 
ter de pastur'. W'en Sally come in a 
little later fum de big house, whar she 'd 
be'n waitin* on de w'ite folks, she foun' 
po' Dan nigh 'bout dead, he wuz so 
skeered. She 'lowed Dan had had de 
nightmare ; but w'en dey look' at de do', 
dey seed de marks er de mule's huffs, 

120 The Conjure Wofna7i 

so dey could n' be no mistake 'bout w'at 
had happen\ 

" Co'se de niggers tol' dey marster 
'bout de mule's gwines-on. Fust he 
did n' pay no 'tention ter it, but atter a 
w'ile he tol' 'em ef dey did n' stop dey 
foolis'ness, he gwine tie some un 'em up. 
So atter dat dey did n' say nuffin mo* 
ter dey marster, but dey kep' on noticin' 
de mule's quare ways des de same. 

" 'Long 'bout de middle er de summer 
dey wuz a big camp-meetin' broke out 
down on de Wim'l'ton Road, en nigh 
'bout all de po' w'ite folks en free nig- 
gers in de settlement got 'ligion, en lo en 
behol' ! 'mongs' 'em wuz de cunjuh man 
w'at own' de shote w'at cha'med Primus. 

"Dis cunjuh man wuz a Guinea nig- 
ger, en befo' he wuz sot free had use' 
ter b'long ter a gent'eman down in 
Sampson County. De cunjuh man say 
his daddy wuz a king, er a guv'ner, er 
some sorter w'at-you-may-call-'em 'way 

The Conjurer s Revenge 121 

ober yander in Affiky whar de niggers 
come fum, befo' he was stoled erway en 
sol' ter de spekilaters. De cunjuh man 
had he'ped his marster out'n some trou- 
ble ernudder wid his goopher, en his 
marster had sot him free, en bought 
him a trac' er land down on de WimT- 
ton Road. He purten' ter be a cow-doc- 
tor, but eve'ybody knowed w'at he r'al'y 

" De cunjuh man had n' mo' d'n come 
th'oo good, befo' he wuz tuk sick wid a 
col' w'at he kotch kneelin' on de groun' 
so long at de mou'ners' bench. He 
kep' gittin' wusser en wusser, en bimeby 
de rheumatiz tuk holt er 'im, en drawed 
him all up, 'tel one day he sont word 
up ter Mars Jim McGee's plantation, en 
ax' Pete, de nigger w'at tuk keer er de 
mules, fer ter come down dere dat night 
en fetch dat mule w'at his marster had 
bought fum de po' w'ite man dyoin' er 
de summer. 

122 The Conjure Woynan 

"Pete did n' know w'at de cunjuh 
man wuz dribin' at, but he did n' daster 
stay way ; en so dat night, w'en he 'd 
done eat his bacon en his hoe-cake, en 
drunk his 'lasses-en-water, he put a 
bridle on de mule, en rid 'im down ter 
de cunjuh man's cabin. W'en he got ter 
de do', he lit en hitch' de mule, en den 
knock' at de do'. He felt mighty jubous 
'bout gwine in, but he was bleedst ter do 
it ; he knowed he could n' he'p 'isse'f. 

" ' Pull de string,' sez a weak voice, 
en w'en Pete lif de latch en went in, de 
cunjuh man was layin' on de bed, lookin' 
pale en weak, lack he did n' hab much 
longer f er ter Hb. 

" ' Is you fotch' de mule } ' sezee. 

" Pete say yas, en de cunjuh man kep' 

" * Brer Pete,' sezee, ' I 's be'n a 
monst'us sinner man, en I 's done a 
power er wickedness endyoin' er my 
days ; but de good Lawd is wash' my 

The Conjurer s Revenge 123 

sins erway, en I feels now dat I 's boun' 
fer de kingdom. En I feels, too, dat I 
ain' gwine ter git up fum dis bed no 
mo' in dis worl', en I wants ter ondo 
.some er de harm I done. En dat 's de 
reason. Brer Pete, I sont fer you ter 
fetch dat mule down here. You 'mem- 
ber dat shote I was up ter yo' planta- 
tion inquirin' 'bout las' June t ' 

" ' Yas,' says Brer Pete, ' I 'member 
yo' axin' 'bout a shote you had los'.' 

" ' I dunno whe'r you eber I'arnt it er 
no,' says de cunjuh man, 'but I done 
knowed yo' marster's Primus had tuk de 
shote, en I wuz boun' ter git eben wid 
'im. So one night I cotch' 'im down 
by de swamp on his way ter a candy- 
pullin', en I th'owed a goopher mixtry on 
'im, en turnt 'im ter a mule, en got a po' 
w'ite man ter sell de mule, en we 'vided 
de money. But I doan want ter die 'tel 
I turn Brer Primus back ag'in.' 

"Den de cunjuh man ax' Pete ter 

124 The Conjure Woman 

take down one er two go'ds off' n a she'f 
in de corner, en one er two bottles wid 
some kin' er mixtry in 'em, en set 'em 
on a stool by de bed ; en den he ax' 'im 
ter fetch de mule in. 

"Wen de mule come in de do', he 
gin a snort, en started fer de bed, des 
lack he was gwine ter jump on it. 

" * Hoi' on dere. Brer Primus ! ' de cun- 
juh man hollered. * I 's monst'us weak, 
en ef you 'mence on me, you won't neb- 
ber hab no chance fer ter git turn' back 

no mo'.' 

**De mule seed de sense er dat, en 
stood still. Den de cunjuh man tuk de 
go'ds en bottles, en 'mence' ter wuk de 
roots en yarbs, en de mule 'mence' ter 
turn back ter a man, — fust his years, 
den de res' er his head, den his shoul- 
ders en arms. All de time de cunjuh 
man kep' on wukkin' his roots ; en Pete 
en Primus could see he wuz gittin' 
weaker en weaker all de time. 

The Conjjirer's Revenge 125 

*' * Brer Pete,' sezee, bimeby, * gimme 
a drink er dem bitters out'n dat green 
bottle on de she'f yander. I 's gwine 
fas', en it '11 gimme strenk fer ter finish 
dis wuk.' 

"Brer Pete look' up on de mantel- 
piece, en he seed a bottle in de corner. 
It was so da'k in de cabin he could n' 
tell whe'r it wuz a green bottle er no. 
But he hilt de bottle ter de cunjuh 
man's mouf, en he tuk a big mouff'l. 
He had n' mo' d'n swallowed it befo' he 
'mence' ter holler. 

** * You gimme de wrong bottle, Brer 
Pete ; dis yer bottle 's got pizen in it, 
en I 's done fer dis time, sho'. Hoi' me 
up, fer de Lawd's sake ! 'tel I git th'oo 
turnin' Brer Primus back.' 

" So Pete hilt him up, en he kep' on 
wukkin' de roots, 'tel he got de goopher 
all tuk off'n Brer Primus 'cep'n' one 
foot. He had n' got dis foot mo' d'n 
half turnt back befo' his strenk gun out 

126 The Conjure Woman 

enti'ely, en he drap' de roots en fell 
back on de bed. 

" ' I can't do no mo' f er you, Brer 
Primus,' sezee, *but I hopes you will 
fergib me fer w'at harm I done you. I 
knows de good Lawd done fergib me, 
en I hope ter meet you bofe in glory. 
I sees de good angels waitin' fer me up 
yander, wid a long w'ite robe en a starry 
crown, en I 'm on my way ter jine 'em.' 
En so de cunjuh man died, en Pete en 
Primus went back ter de plantation. 

"De darkies all made a great 'mira- 
tion w'en Primus come back. Mars 
Jim let on lack he did n' b'lieve de tale 
de two niggers tol' ; he sez Primus had 
runned er^vay, en stay' 'tel he got ti'ed 
er de swamps, en den come back on him 
ter be fed. He tried ter 'count fer de 
shape er Primus' foot by sayin' Primus 
got his foot smash', er snake-bit, er 
sump'n, w'iles he wuz erway, en den 
stayed out in de woods whar he could n' 

The Conjurer's Revenge 127 

git it kyoed up straight, 'stidder comin' 
long home whar a doctor could 'a' 
'tended ter it. But de niggers all notice' 
dey marster did n' tie Primus up, ner 
take on much 'ca'se de mule wuz gone. 
So dey 'lowed dey marster must 'a' had 
his s'picions 'bout dat cunjuh man." 

My wife had listened to Julius's recital 
with only a mild interest. When the 
old man had finished it she remarked : — 

"That story does not appeal to me. 
Uncle Julius, and is not up to your 
usual mark. It is n't pathetic, it has no 
moral that I can discover, and I can't 
see why you should tell it. In fact, it 
seems to me like nonsense." 

The old man looked puzzled as well as 
pained. He had not pleased the lady, 
and he did not seem to understand why. 

" I 'm sorry, ma'm," he said reproach- 
fully, " ef you doan lack dat tale. I can't 
make out w'at you means by some er 
dem wo'ds you uses, but I 'm tellin' 

128 TJie Conjure Woman 

nuffin but de truf. Co'se I did n' see 
de cunjuh man tu'n 'im back, fer I wuz n' 
dere ; but I be'n hearin' de tale fer 
twenty-five yeahs, en I ain' got no 
*casion fer ter 'spute it. Dey 's so many 
things a body knows is lies, dat dey ain' 
no use gwine roun' findin' fault wid tales 
dat mought des ez well be so ez not. 
F' instance, dey 's a young nigger gwine 
ter school in town, en he come out heah 
de yuther day en 'lowed dat de sun stood 
still en de yeath turnt roun' eve'y day 
on a kinder axletree. I toF dat young 
nigger ef he didn' take hisse'f 'way wid 
dem lies, I 'd take a buggy-trace ter 'im ; 
fer I sees de yeath stan'in' still all de 
time, en I sees de sun gwine roun' it, 
en ef a man can't b'lieve w'at 'e sees, I 
can't see no use in libbin' — mought 's 
well die en be whar we can't see nuffin. 
En ernudder thing w'at proves de tale 
'bout dis ole Primus is de way he goes 
on ef anybody ax' him how he come 

The Conjurer^ s Revenge 129 

by dat club-foot. I axed 'im one day, 
mighty perlite en civil, en he call' me a' 
ole fool, en got so mad he ain' spoke 
ter me sence. Hit 's monst'us quare. 
But dis is a quare worl*, anyway yer kin 
fix it," concluded the old man, with a 
weary sigh. 

"Ef you makes up yo' min' not ter 
buy dat mule, suh," he added, as he rose 
to go, "I knows a man w'at 's got a 
good boss he wants ter sell, — leas'ways 
dat 's w'at I beared. I *m gwine ter 
pra'rmeetin' ter-night, en I 'm gwine 
right by de man's house, en ef you 'd 
lack ter look at de boss, I '11 ax 'im ter 
fetch him roun'." 

"Oh, yes," I said, "you can ask him 
to stop in, if he is passing. There will 
be no barm in looking at the horse, 
though I rather think I shall buy a 

Early next morning the man brought 
the horse up to the vineyard. At that 

130 The Conjure Woman 

time I was not a very good judge of horse- 
flesh. The horse appeared sound and 
gentle, and, as the owner assured me, 
had no bad habits. The man wanted a 
large price for the horse, but finally 
agreed to accept a much smaller sum, 
upon payment of which I became pos- 
sessed of a very fine-looking animal. 
But alas for the deceitfulness of appear- 
ances ! I soon ascertained that the 
horse was blind in one eye, and that the 
sight of the other was very defective ; 
and not a month elapsed before my pur- 
chase developed most of the diseases 
that horse-flesh is heir to, and a more 
worthless, broken-winded, spavined quad- 
ruped never disgraced the noble name 
of horse. After worrying through two 
or three months of life, he expired one 
night in a fit of the colic. I replaced 
him with a mule, and Julius henceforth 
had to take his chances of driving some 
metamorphosed unfortunate. 

The Conjurer's Revenge 131 

Circumstances that afterwards came 
to my knowledge created in my mind a 
strong suspicion that Julius may have 
played a more than unconscious part in 
this transaction. Among other signifi- 
cant facts was his appearance, the Sun- 
day following the purchase of the horse, 
in a new suit of store clothes, which I 
had seen displayed in the window of 
Mr. Solomon Cohen's store on my last 
visit to town, and had remarked on ac- 
count of their striking originality of cut 
and pattern. As I had not recently 
paid Julius any money, and as he had 
no property to mortgage, I was driven 
to conjecture to account for his posses- 
sion of the means to buy the clothes. 
Of course I would not charge him with 
duplicity unless I could prove it, at least 
to a moral certainty, but for a long time 
afterwards I took his advice only in 
small doses and with great discrimina- 


We had not lived in North Carolina 
very long before I was able to note a 
marked improvement in my wife's health. 
The ozone-laden air of the surrounding 
piney woods, the mild and equable cli- 
mate, the peaceful leisure of country 
life, had brought about in hopeful mea- 
sure the cure we had anticipated. 
Toward the end of our second year, 
however, her ailment took an unex- 
pected turn for the worse. She became 
the victim of a settled melancholy, at- 
tended with vague forebodings of im- 
pending misfortune. 

"You must keep up her spirits," said 
our physician, the best in the neigh- 
boring town. " This melancholy lowers 
her tone too much, tends to lessen her 

Sis' Becky s Pickaninny 133 

strength, and, if it continue too long, 
may be fraught with grave conse- 

I tried various expedients to cheer 
her up. I read novels to her. I had 
the hands on the place come up in the 
evening and serenade her with planta- 
tion songs. Friends came in sometimes 
and talked, and frequent letters from 
the North kept her in touch with her 
former home. But nothing seemed to 
rouse her from the depression into 
which she had fallen. 

One pleasant afternoon in spring, I 
placed an armchair in a shaded portion 
of the front piazza, and filling it with 
pillows led my wife out of the house and 
seated her where she would have the 
pleasantest view of a somewhat monoto- 
nous scenery. She was scarcely placed 
when old Julius came through the yard, 
and, taking off his tattered straw hat, 
inquired, somewhat anxiously : — 

134 The Conjure Woman 

**How is you feelin' dis atternoon, 
ma'm ? " 

" She is not very cheerful, Julius/' I 
said. My wife was apparently without 
energy enough to speak for herself. 

The old man did not seem inclined 
to go away, so I asked him to sit down. 
I had noticed, as he came up, that 
he held some small object in his hand. 
When he had taken his seat on the top 
step, he kept fingering this object, — 
what it was I could not quite make out. 

" What is that you have there, Julius .•* " 
I asked, with mild curiosity. 

"Dis is my rabbit foot, suh." 

This was at a time before this curious 
superstition had attained its present joc- 
ular popularity among white people, and 
while I had heard of it before, it had not 
yet outgrown the charm of novelty. 

*' What do you do with it } " 

" I kyars it wid me fer luck, suh." 
Julius," I observed, half to him and 


Sis' Becky s Pickaninny 135 

half to my wife, ''your people will never 
rise in the world until they throw off 
these childish superstitions and learn to 
live by the light of reason and common 
sense. How absurd to imagine that the 
fore-foot of a poor dead rabbit, with 
which he timorously felt his way along 
through a life surrounded by snares and 
pitfalls, beset by enemies on every hand, 
can promote happiness or success, or 
ward off failure or misfortune ! " 

'* It is ridiculous," assented my wife, 
with faint interest. 

'* Dat 's w'at I tells dese niggers roun* 
heah," said Julius. " De fo'-foot ain' 
got no power. It has ter be de hin'- 
foot, suh, — de lef ' hin'-foot er a grabe- 
ya'd rabbit, killt by a cross-eyed nigger 
on a da'k night in de full er de moon." 

" They must be very rare and valua- 
ble," I said. 

"Dey is kinder ska'ce, suh, en dey 
ain' no 'mount er money could buy mine, 

136 The Conjure Woman 

suh. I mought len' it ter anybody I sot 
sto' by, but I would n' sell it, no indeed, 
suh, I would n'." 

" How do you know it brings good 
luck ? " I asked. 

" 'Ca'se I ain' had no bad luck sence 
I had it, suh, en I 's had dis rabbit foot 
fer fo'ty yeahs. I had a good marster 
befo' de wah, en I wa'n't sol' erway, en 
I wuz sot free ; en dat 'uz all good luck." 

" But that does n't prove anything," 
I rejoined. " Many other people have 
gone through a similar experience, and 
probably more than one of them had no 
rabbit's foot." 

" Law, suh ! you doan hafter prove 
'bout de rabbit foot ! Eve'ybody knows 
dat ; leas'ways eve'ybody roun' heah 
knows it. But ef it has ter be prove' 
ter folks w'at wa'n't bawn en raise' in 
dis naberhood, dey is a' easy way ter 
prove it. Is I eber tol' you de tale er 
Sis' Becky en her pickaninny } " 

Si's* Becky s Pickafiinny 137 

"No," I said, "let us hear it." I 
thought perhaps the story might inter- 
est my wife as much or more than the 
novel I had meant to read from. 

"Dis yer Becky," Julius began, "use- 
ter b'long ter ole Kunnel Pen'leton, who 
owned a plantation down on de Wim'l'- 
ton Road, 'bout ten miles fum heah, 
des befo' you gits ter Black Swamp. 
Dis yer Becky wuz a fiel'-han', en a 
monst'us good 'un. She had a husban' 
oncet, a nigger w'at b'longed on de nex' 
plantation, but de man w'at owned her 
husban' died, en his Ian' en his niggers 
had ter be sol' fer ter pay his debts. 
Kunnel Pen'leton 'lowed he'd 'a' bought 
dis nigger, but he had be'n bettin' on 
boss races, en did n' hab no money, en 
so Becky's husban' wuz sol' erway ter 

" Co'se Becky went on some 'bout 
losin' her man, but she could n' he'p 
herse'f ; en 'sides dat, she had her pick- 

138 The Conjure Woman 

aninny fer ter comfo't her. Dis yer lit- 
tle Mose wuz de cutes', blackes', shiny- 
eyedes* little nigger you eber laid eyes 
on, en he wuz ez fon' er his mammy ez 
his mammy wuz er him. Co'se Becky 
had ter wuk en did n' hab much time 
ter was'e wid her baby. Ole Aun' 
Nancy, de plantation nuss down at de 
qua'ters, useter take keer er little Mose 
in de daytime, en atter de niggers come 
in fum de cotton-fiel' Becky 'ud git her 
chile en kiss 'im en nuss 'im, en keep 
'im 'tel mawnin' ; en on Sundays she 'd 
hab 'im in her cabin wid her all day 

"Sis' Becky had got sorter useter 
gittin' 'long widout her husban', w'en 
one day Kunnel Pen'leton went ter de 
races. Co'se w'en he went ter de races, 
he tuk his bosses, en co'se he bet on 'is 
own bosses, en co'se he los' his money ; 
fer Kunnel Pen'leton did n' nebber hab 
no luck wid his bosses, ef he did keep 

Sis' Becky s Pickaninny 139 

hisse'f po' projeckin' vvid 'em. But dis 
time dey wuz a boss name' Lightnin' 
Bug, w'at b'longed ter ernudder man, 
en dis boss won de sweep-stakes ; en 
Kunnel Pen'leton tuk a lackin' ter dat 
boss, en ax' bis owner w'at he wuz willin' 
ter take fer 'im. 

" * I '11 take a tbousan' dollabs fer dat 
boss,' sez dis yer man, wbo bad a big 
plantation down to'ds Wim'l'ton, wbar 
he raise' bosses fer ter race en ter sell. 

"Well, Kunnel Pen'leton scratch' 'is 
head, en wonder wbar be wuz gwine ter 
raise a tbousan' dollabs ; en be did n* 
see des bow be could do it, fer he owed 
ez much ez be could borry a'ready on de 
skyo'ity he could gib. But be wuz des 
boun* ter bab dat boss, so sezee : — 

" ' I '11 gib you my note fer 'leven 
hund'ed dollabs fer dat boss.' 

"De yuther man shuck 'is head, en 
sezee : — ^ 

" * Yo' note, sub, is better 'n gol', I 

140 The Conjtire Woman 

doan doubt ; but I is made it a rule in 
my bizness not ter take no notes fum 
nobody. Howsomeber, suh, ef you is 
kinder sho't er fun's, mos' lackly we kin 
make some kin' er bahg'in. En w'iles 
we is talkin', I mought 's well say dat I 
needs ernudder good nigger down on 
my place. Ef you is got a good one ter 
spar', I mought trade wid you.' 

" Now, Kunnel Pen'leton did n' r'ally 
hab no niggers fer ter spar', but he 
'lowed ter hisse'f he wuz des bleedzd ter 
hab dat boss, en so he sez, sezee : — 

** * Well, I doan lack ter, but I reckon 
I '11 haf ter. You come out ter my 
plantation ter-morrer en look ober my 
niggers, en pick out de one you wants.' 

'' So sho' 'nuff nex' day dis yer man 
come out ter Kunnel Pen'leton's place 
en rid roun' de plantation en glanshed 
at de niggers, en who sh'd he pick out 
fum 'em all but Sis' Becky. 

" * I needs a noo nigger 'oman down 

Sis' Becky s Pickmiijiny 141 

ter my place,' sezee, * fer ter cook en 
wash, en so on ; en dat young 'oman '11 
des fill de bill. You gimme her, en you 
kin hab Lightnin' Bug.' " 

" Now, Kunnel Pen'leton did n' lack 
ter trade Sis' Becky, 'ca'se she wuz nigh 
'bout de bes' fiel'-han' he had ; en 'sides, 
Mars Kunnel did n' keer ter take de 
mammies 'way fum dey chillun w'iles de 
chillun wuz little. But dis man say he 
want Becky, er e'se Kunnel Pen'leton 
could n' hab de race boss. 

" * Well,' sez de kunnel, *you kin hab 
de 'oman. But I doan lack ter sen' her 
Vay fum her baby. Wat '11 you gimme 
fer dat nigger baby .-* ' 

" * I doan want de baby,' sez de yuther 
man. * I ain' got no use fer de baby.' 

'' ' I tell yer w'at I '11 do,' 'lows Kunnel 
Pen'leton, ' I '11 th'ow dat pickaninny in 
fer good measure.' 

*' But de yuther man shuck his head. 
*No,' sezee, *I's much erbleedzd, but I 

142 TJie Conjure Woman 

doan raise niggers ; I raises bosses, en 
I doan wanter be both'rin' wid no nig- 
ger babies. Nemmine de baby. I '11 
keep dat 'oman so busy she '11 f ergit de 
baby ; fer niggers is made ter wuk, en 
dey ain' got no time fer no sich foolis'- 
ness ez babies.' 

" Kunnel Pen'leton did n* wanter hu't 
Becky's feelin's, — fer Kunnel Pen'leton 
wuz a kin'-hea'ted man, en nebber lack' 
ter make no trouble fer nobody, — en so 
he tol' Becky he wuz gwine sen' her 
down ter Robeson County fer a day er 
so, ter he'p out his son-in-law in his 
wuk ; en bein' ez dis yuther man wuz 
gwine dat way, he had ax' 'im ter take 
her 'long in his buggy. 

" * Kin I kyar little Mose wid me, mars- 
ter "i ' ax' Sis' Becky. 

" * N-o,' sez de kunnel, ez ef he wuz 
studyin' whuther ter let her take 'im er 
no ; * I reckon you better let Aun' Nancy 
look atter yo' baby fer de day er two 

Si's' Becky s Pickanimty 143 

you 'II be gone, en she '11 see dat he gits 
ernuff ter eat 'tel you gits back.' 

" So Sis' Becky hug' en kiss' little 
Mose, en tol' 'im ter be a good little 
pickaninny, en take keer er hisse'f, en 
not fergit his mammy w'iles she wuz 
gone. En little Mose put his arms 
roun' his mammy en lafft en crowed des 
lack it wuz monst'us fine fun fer his 
mammy ter go 'way en leabe 'im. 

" Well, dis yer boss trader sta'ted out 
wid Becky, en bimeby, atter dey 'd gone 
down de Lumbe'ton Road fer a few 
miles er so, dis man tu'nt roun' in a 
diffe'nt d'rection, en kep' goin' dat er- 
way, 'tel bimeby Sis' Becky up 'n ax' 'im 
ef he wuz gwine ter Robeson County by 
a noo road. 

'' ' No, nigger,' sezee, * I ain' gwine ter 
Robeson County at all. I 's gwine ter 
Bladen County, whar my plantation is, 
en whar I raises all my bosses.' 

" * But how is I gwine ter git ter Mis' 

144 '^^^^ Conjure Woman 

Laura's plantation down in Robeson 
County ? ' sez Becky, wid her hea't in 
her mouf, fer she 'mence' ter git skeered 
all er a sudden. 

" * You ain' gwine ter git dere at all,* 
sez de man. * You b'longs ter me now, 
fer I done traded my bes' race hoss fer 
you, wid yo' ole marster. Ef you is a 
good gal, I '11 treat you right, en ef you 
doan behabe yo'se'f, — w'y, w'at e'se 
happens '11 be yo' own fault.' 

"■ Co'se Sis' Becky cried en went on 
'bout her pickaninny, but co'se it did n' 
do no good, en bimeby dey got down 
ter dis yer man's place, en he put Sis* 
Becky ter wuk, en fergot all 'bout her 
habin' a pickaninny. 

"Meanw'iles, w'en ebenin' come, de 
day Sis' Becky wuz tuk 'way, little Mose 
'mence' ter git res'less, en bimeby, w'en 
his mammy did n' come, he stated ter 
cry fer 'er. Aun' Nancy fed 'im en 
rocked 'im en rocked 'im, en fin'lly he 

Sts* Becky s Pickaninny 145 

des cried en cried 'tel he cried hisse'f 
ter sleep. 

" De nex' day he did n' 'pear ter be 
as peart ez yushal, en w'en night come 
he fretted en went on wuss 'n he did de 
night befo'. De nex' day his little eyes 
'mence' ter lose dey shine, en he would n' 
eat nuffin, en he 'mence' ter look so 
peaked dat Aun' Nancy tuk'n kyared 
'im up ter de big house, en showed 'im 
ter her ole missis, en her ole missis gun 
her some med'cine fer 'im, en 'lowed ef 
he did n' git no better she sh'd fetch 'im 
up ter de big house ag'in, en dey 'd hab 
a doctor, en nuss little Mose up dere. 
Fer Aun* Nancy's ole missis 'lowed he 
wuz a lackly little nigger en wu'th raisin'. 

" But Aun' Nancy had I'arn' ter lack 
little Mose, en she did n' wanter hab 'im 
tuk up ter de big house. En so w'en he 
did n' git no better, she gethered a mess 
er green peas, and tuk de peas en de 
baby, en went ter see ole Aun' Peggy, 

146 The Coiijtu^e Woman 

de cunjuh 'ornan down by de Wim'Tton 
Road. She gun Aun' Peggy de mess er 
peas, en tol' her all 'bout Sis' Becky en 
little Mose. 

" ' Dat is a monst'us small mess er 
peas you is fetch' me,' sez Aun' Peggy, 
sez she. 

'' ' Yas, I knows,' 'lowed Aun' Nancy, 
*but dis yere is a monst'us small picka- 

" * You '11 hafter fetch me sump'n 
mo',' sez Aun' Peggy, *fer you can't 
*spec' me ter was'e my time diggin* 
roots en wukkin' cunj'ation fer nuffin.' 

" ' All right,' sez Aun' Nancy, ' I '11 
fetch you sump'n mo' nex' time.' 

"'You bettah,' sez Aun' Peggy, 'er 
e'se dey '11 be trouble. Wat dis yer 
little pickaninny needs is ter see his 
mammy. You leabe 'im heah 'tel eben- 
in' en I '11 show 'im his mammy.' 

** So w'en Aun' Nancy had gone 'way, 
Aun' Peggy tuk 'n wukked her roots, en 

Sts' Becky s Pickaninny 147 

tu'nt little Mose ter a hummin'-bird, en 
sont 'im off fer ter fin' his mammy. 

"■ So little Mose flewed, en flewed, en 
flewed away, 'tel bimeby he got ter de 
place whar Sis' Becky b'longed. He 
seed his mammy wukkin' roun' de ya'd, 
en he could tell fum lookin' at her dat 
she wuz trouble' in her min' 'bout sump'n, 
en feelin' kin' er po'ly. Sis' Becky beared 
sump'n hummin' roun' en roun' her, sweet 
en low. Fus' she 'lowed it wuz a hum- 
min'-bird ; den she thought it sounded 
lack her little Mose croonin' on her breas' 
way back yander on de ole plantation. 
En she des 'magine' it wuz her little 
Mose, en it made her feel bettah, en she 
went on 'bout her wuk pearter 'n she 'd 
done sence she 'd be'n down dere. Little 
Mose stayed roun' 'tel late in de ebenin', 
en den flewed back ez hard ez he could 
ter Aun' Peggy. Ez fer Sis' Becky, she 
dremp all dat night dat she wuz holdin' 
her pickaninny in her arms, en kissin' 

148 The Cojijiire Woman 

him, en nussin' him, des lack she useter 
do back on de ole plantation whar he 
wuz bawn. En fer th'ee er fo' days Sis* 
Becky went 'bout her wuk wid mo' sper- 
rit dan she 'd showed sence she 'd be'n 
down dere ter dis man's plantation. 

*'De nex' day atter he come back, 
little Mose wuz mo' pearter en better 'n 
he had be'n fer a long time. But to'ds 
de een' er de week he 'mence' ter git 
res'less ag'in, en stop' eatin', en Aun' 
Nancy kyared 'im down ter Aun' Peggy 
once mo', en she tu'nt 'im ter a mawkin'- 
bird dis time, en sont 'im off ter see his 
mammy ag'in. 

" It did n' take him long fer ter git 
dere, en w'en he did, he seed his 
mammy standin' in de kitchen, lookin' 
back in de d'rection little Mose wuz 
comin' fum. En dey wuz tears in her 
eyes, en she look' mo' po'ly en peaked 'n 
she had w'en he wuz down dere befo'. 
So little Mose sot on a tree in de ya'd 

Sts' Becky s Pickaninny 149 

en sung, en sung, en sung, des fittin' ter 
split his th'oat. Fus' Sis' Becky did n* 
notice *im much, but dis mawkin'-bird 
kep' stayin' roun' de house all day, en 
bimeby Sis' Becky des 'magine' dat maw- 
kin'-bird wuz her little Mose crowin' en 
crowin', des lack he useter do w'en his 
mammy would come home at night fum 
de cotton-fiel'. De mawkin'-bird stayed 
roun* dere 'mos* all day, en w'en Sis* 
Becky went out in de ya'd one time, dis 
yer mawkin'-bird lit on her shoulder en 
peck' at de piece er bread she wuz eat- 
in', en fluttered his wings so dey rub' up 
agin de side er her head. En w'en he 
flewed away 'long late in de ebenin', des 
'fo' sundown. Sis' Becky felt mo' bet- 
ter 'n she had sence she had beared dat 
hummin'-bird a week er so pas'. En dat 
night she dremp 'bout ole times ag'in, 
des lack she did befo'. 

'* But dis yer totin' little Mose down 
ter ole Aun' Peggy, en dis yer gittin' 

150 The Conjure Woman 

things fer ter pay de cunjuh 'oman, use' 
up a lot er Aun' Nancy's time, en she 
begun ter git kinder ti'ed. 'Sides dat, 
w'en Sis' Becky had be'n on de planta- 
tion, she had useter he'p Aun' Nancy 
wid de young uns ebenin's en Sundays ; 
en Aun' Nancy 'mence' ter miss 'er 
monst'us, 'speshly sence she got a tech 
er de rheumatiz herse'f, en so she 'lows 
ter ole Aun' Peggy one day : — 

" ' Aun' Peggy, ain' dey no way you 
kin fetch Sis' Becky back home ? ' 

" * Huh ! ' sez Aun' Peggy, ' I dunno 
'bout dat. I '11 hafter wuk my roots en 
fin' out whuther I kin er no. But it '11 
take a monst'us heap er wuk, en I can't 
was'e my time fer nuffin. Ef you '11 
fetch me sump'n ter pay me fer my 
trouble, I reckon we kin fix it.' 

" So nex' day Aun' Nancy went down 
ter see Aun' Peggy ag'in. 

" ' Aun' Peggy,' sez she, ' I is fotch' 
you my bes' Sunday head-hankercher. 
Will dat do ? ' 

Sis Becky s Pickaninny 151 

" Aun' Peggy look' at de head-hanker- 
cher, en run her han' ober it, en sez 
she : — 

*''Yas, dat'll do fus'-rate. I's be'n 
wukkin' my roots sence you be'n gone, 
en I 'lows mos' lackly I kin git Sis* 
Becky back, but it 's gwine take fig'rin' 
en studyin' ez well ez cunj'in'. De fus' 
thing ter do '11 be ter stop fetchin' dat 
pickaninny down heah, en not sen' 'im 
ter see his mammy no mo'. Ef he gits 
too po'ly, you lemme know, en I '11 gib 
you some kin' er mixtry fer ter make 'im 
fergit Sis' Becky fer a week er so. So 
*less'n you comes fer dat, you neenter 
come back ter see me no mo' 'tel I sen's 
fer you.' 

"So Aun* Peggy sont Aun' Nancy 
erway, en de fus' thing she done wuz 
ter call a hawnet fum a nes' unner her 

" ^ You go up ter Kunnel Pen'leton's 
stable, hawnet,' sez she, *en sting' de 

152 The Conjure Woman 

knees er de race boss name' Lightnin' 
Bug. Be sho' en git de right one.' 

" So de hawnet flewed up ter Kunnel 
Pen'leton's stable en stung Lightnin' 
Bug roun' de laigs, en de nex' mawnin* 
Lightnin' Bug's knees wuz all swoll' up, 
twice't ez big ez dey oughter be. Wen 
Kunnel Pen'leton went out ter de stable 
en see de boss's laigs, hit would 'a' des 
made you trimble lack a leaf fer ter 
heah him cuss dat boss trader. How- 
someber, be cool' off bimeby en tol' de 
stable boy fer ter rub Lightnin' Bug's 
laigs wid some linimum. De boy done 
ez his marster tol' 'im, en by de nex' day 
de swellin' bad gone down consid'able. 
Aun' Peggy bad sont a sparrer, w'at bad 
a nes' in one er de trees close ter her 
cabin, fer ter watch w'at wuz gwine on 
'roun' de big bouse, en w'en dis yer 
sparrer tol' 'er de boss wuz gittin' ober 
de swellin', she sont de hawnet back fer 
ter sting 'is knees some mo', en de nex' 

SiY Becky s Pickaninny 153 

mawnin' Lightnin' Bug's laigs wuz swoll' 
up wuss 'n befo'. 

" Well, dis time Kunnel Pen'leton 
wuz mad th'oo en th'oo, en all de way 
'roun', en he cusst dat hoss trader up en 
down, fum A ter Izzard. He cusst so 
ha'd dat de stable boy got mos' skeered 
ter def, en went off en hid hisse'f in de 

"Ez fer Kunnel Pen'leton, he went 
right up ter de house en got out his pen 
en ink, en tuk off his coat en roll* up his 
sleeves, en writ a letter ter dis yer hoss 
trader, en sezee : — 

^' ' You is sol' me a hoss w'at is got 
a ringbone er a spavin er sump'n, en 
w'at I paid you fer wuz a soun* hoss. I 
wants you ter sen' my nigger 'oman 
back en take yo' ole hoss, er e'se I '11 
sue you, sho 's you bawn.' 

"But dis yer man wa'n't skeered a 
bit, en he writ back ter Kunnel Pen'le- 
ton dat a bahg'in wuz a bahg'in ; dat 

154 I'Ji^ Conjure Woman 

Lightnin' Bug wuz soun' w'en he soF 
'im, en ef Kunnel Pen'leton did n' 
knowed ernuff 'bout bosses ter take 
keer er a fine racer, dat wuz his own 
fune'al. En he say Kunnel Pen'leton 
kin sue en be cusst fer all he keer, but 
he ain' gwine ter gib up de nigger he 
bought en paid fer. 

" W'en Kunnel Pen'leton got dis let- 
ter he wuz madder 'n he wuz befo', 
'speshly 'ca'se dis man 'lowed he did n' 
know how ter take keer er fine bosses. 
But he could n' do nuffin but fetch a 
lawsuit, en he knowed, by bis own 'spe- 
'ience, dat lawsuits wuz slow ez de 
seben-yeah eetch and cos' mo' d'n dey 
come ter, en he 'lowed be better go 
slow en wait awhile. 

" Aun' Peggy knowed w'at wuz gwine 
on all dis time, en she fix' up a little bag 
wid some roots en one thing en ernudder 
in it, en gun it ter dis sparrer er ber'n, 
en tol' 'im ter take it 'way down yander 

Sis' Beckys Pickaninny 155 

whar Sis' Becky wuz, en drap it right 
befo' de do' er her cabin, so she 'd be 
sho' en fin' it de fus' time she ccme 
out'n de do'. 

*' One night Sis' Becky dremp' her 
pickaninny wuz dead, en de nex day she 
wuz mo'nin' en groanin' all day. She 
dremp' de same dream th'ee nights run- 
nin', en den, de nex' mawnin' atter de 
las' night, she foun' dis yer little bag de 
sparrer had drap' in front her do* ; en 
she 'lowed she'd be'n cunju'd, en wuz 
gwine ter die, en ez long ez her picka- 
ninny wuz dead dey wa'n't no use tryin* 
ter do nuffin nohow. En so she tuk 'n 
went ter bed, en tol' her marster she 'd 
be'n cunju'd en wuz gwine ter die. 

" Her marster lafft at her, en argyed 
wid her, en tried ter 'suade her out'n dis 
yer fool notion, ez he called it, — fer he 
wuz one er dese yer w'ite folks w'at 
purten' dey doan b'liebe in cunj'in', — 
but hit wa'n't no use. Sis' Becky kep' 

156 The Conjure Woman 

gittin' wusser en wusser, 'tel fin'lly dis 
yer man 'lowed Sis' Becky wuz gvvine 
ter die, sho' 'nuff. En ez he knowed 
dey had n' be'n nuffin de matter wid 
Lightnin' Bug w'en he traded 'im, he 
'lowed mebbe he could kyo' 'im en fetch 
'im roun' all right, leas'ways good 'nuff 
ter sell ag'in. En anyhow, a lame hoss 
wuz better 'n a dead nigger. So he sot 
down en writ Kunnel Pen'leton a letter. 
" * My conscience,' sezee, ' has be'n 
troublin' me 'bout dat ringbone' hoss I 
sol' you. Some folks 'lows a hoss trader 
ain' got no conscience, but dey doan 
know me, fer dat is my weak spot, en de 
reason I ain' made no mo' money hoss 
tradin'. Fac' is,' sezee, * I is got so I 
can't sleep nights fum studyin' 'bout dat 
spavin' hoss ; en I is made up my min' 
dat, w'iles a bahg'in is a bahg'in, en you 
seed Lightnin' Bug befo' you traded fer 
*im, principle is wuth mo' d'n money er 
bosses er niggers. So ef you '11 sen' 

Sts' Becky s Pickaninny 157 

Lightnin' Bug down heah, I '11 sen' yo* 
nigger 'oman back, en we '11 call de 
trade off, en be ez good frien's ez we 
eber wuz, en no ha'd feelin's.' 

" So sho' 'nuff, Kunnel Pen'leton sont 
de boss back. En w'en de man w'at 
come ter bring Lightnin' Bug tol' Sis' 
Becky her pickaninny wa'n't dead. Sis' 
Becky wuz so glad dat she 'lowed she 
wuz gwine ter try ter lib 'tel she got 
back whar she could see little Mose 
once mo'. En w'en she retch' de ole 
plantation en seed her baby kickin' en 
crowin' en holdin' out his little arms 
to'ds her, she wush' she wuz n' cunju'd 
en did n' hafter die. En w'en Aun' 
Nancy tol' 'er all 'bout Aun' Peggy, Sis' 
Becky went down ter see de cunjuh 
'oman, en Aun' Peggy tol' her she had 
cunju'd her. En den Aun' Peggy tuk 
de goopher off' n her, en she got well, en 
stayed on de plantation, en raise' her 
pickaninny. En w'en little Mose growed 

158 The Co7tjtire Woman 

up, he could sing en whistle des lack a 
mawkin'-bird, so dat de w'ite folks use- 
ter hab 'im come up ter de big house at 
night, en whistle en sing fer 'em, en 
dey useter gib 'im money en vittles en 
one thing er ernudder, w'ich he alluz tuk 
home ter his mammy ; fer he knowed 
all 'bout w'at she had gone th'oo. He 
tu'nt out ter be a sma't man, en I'arnt 
de blacksmif trade ; en Kunnel Pen'le- 
ton let 'im hire his time. En bimeby 
he bought his mammy en sot her free, 
en den he bought hisse'f, en tuk keer er 
Sis' Becky ez long ez dey bofe libbed." 

My wife had listened to this story 
with greater interest than she had mani- 
fested in any subject for several days. 
I had watched her furtively from time 
to time during the recital, and had ob- 
served the play of her countenance. It 
had expressed in turn sympathy, indig- 
nation, pity, and at the end lively satis- 

Sts Becky s Pickaninny 159 

" That is a very ingenious fairy tale, 
Julius," I said, " and we are much 
obliged to you." 

" Why, John ! " said my wife severely, 
** the story bears the stamp of truth, if 
ever a story did." 

'' Yes," I replied, " especially the hum- 
ming-bird episode, and the mocking-bird 
digression, to say nothing of the doings 
of the hornet and the sparrow." 

^' Oh, well, I don't care," she rejoined, 
with delightful animation ; " those are 
mere ornamental details and not at all 
essential. The story is true to nature, 
and might have happened half a hun- 
dred times, and no doubt did happen, in 
those horrid days before the war." 

"By the way, Julius," I remarked, 
" your story does n't establish what you 
started out to prove, — that a rabbit's 
foot brings good luck." 

" Hit 's plain 'nuff ter me, suh," replied 
Julius. " I bet young missis dere kin 
'splain it herse'f." 

i6o The Conjure Woman 

" I rather suspect," replied my wife 
promptly, " that Sis' Becky had no rab- 
bit's foot." 

*' You is hit de bull's-eye de fus* fire, 
ma'm," assented Julius. ''Ef Sis' Becky 
had had a rabbit foot, she nebber would 
'a' went th'oo all dis trouble." 

I went into the house for some pur- 
pose, and left Julius talking to my wife. 
When I came back a moment later, he 
was gone. 

My wife's condition took a turn for 
the better from this very day, and she 
was soon on the way to ultimate recov- 
ery. Several weeks later, after she had 
resumed her afternoon drives, which had 
been interrupted by her illness, Julius 
brought the rockaway round to the front 
door one day, and I assisted my wife 
into the carriage. 

"John," she said, before I had taken 
my seat, " I wish you would look in my 
room, and bring me my handkerchief. 

Szs' Becky s Pickaninny i6i 

You will find it in the pocket of my blue 

I went to execute the commission. 
When I pulled the handkerchief out of 
her pocket, something else came with it 
and fell on the floor. I picked up the 
object and looked at it. It was Julius's 
rabbit's foot. 


It was a rainy day at the vineyard. 
The morning had dawned bright and 
clear. But the sky had soon clouded, 
and by nine o'clock there was a light 
shower, followed by others at brief inter- 
vals. By noon the rain had settled into 
a dull, steady downpour. The clouds 
hung low, and seemed to grow denser 
instead of lighter as they discharged 
their watery burden, and there was now 
and then a muttering of distant thunder. 
Outdoor work was suspended, and I 
spent most of the day at the house, 
looking over my accounts and bringing 
up some arrears of correspondence. 

Towards four o'clock I went out on 
the piazza, which was broad and dry, 
and less gloomy than the interior of the 

The Gray Wolfs Hdnt 163 

house, and composed myself for a quiet 
smoke. I had lit my cigar and opened 
the volume I was reading at that time, 
when my wife, whom I had left dozing 
on a lounge, came out and took a rock- 
ing-chair near me. 

" I wish you would talk to me, or read 
to me — or something," she exclaimed 
petulantly. " It 's awfully dull here to- 

" I '11 read to you with pleasure," I 
replied, and began at the point where I 
had found my bookmark : — 

" * The difficulty of dealing with trans- 
formations so many-sided as those which 
all existences have undergone, or are 
undergoing, is such as to make a com- 
plete and deductive interpretation al- 
most hopeless. So to grasp the total 
process of redistribution of matter and 
motion as to see simultaneously its 
several necessary results in their actual 
interdependence is scarcely possible. 
There is, however, a mode of rendering 

164 The Conjure Woman 

the process as a whole tolerably compre- 
hensible. Though the genesis of the 
rearrangement of every evolving aggre- 
gate is in itself one, it presents to our 
intelligence ' " — 

" John," interrupted my wife, " I wish 
you would stop reading that nonsense 
and see who that is coming up the 

I closed my book with a sigh. I had 
never been able to interest my wife in 
the study of philosophy, even when pre- 
sented in the simplest and most lucid 

Some one was coming up the lane ; 
at least, a huge faded cotton umbrella 
was making progress toward the house, 
and beneath it a pair of nether extremi- 
ties in trousers was discernible. Any 
doubt in my mind as to whose they were 
was soon resolved when Julius reached 
the steps and, putting the umbrella 
down, got a good dash of the rain as he 
stepped up on the porch. 

The Gray Wolfs Ha'nt 165 

" Why in the world, Julius," I asked, 
"did n't you keep the umbrella up until 
you got under cover ? " 

" It 's bad luck, suh, ter raise a' um- 
brella in de house, en w'iles I dunno 
whuther it 's bad luck ter kyar one inter 
de piazzer er no, I 'lows it 's alluz bes' 
ter be on de safe side. I did n' s'pose 
you en young missis 'u'd be gwine on 
yo' dribe ter-day, but bein' ez it's my 
pa't ter take you ef you does, I 'lowed 
I 'd repo't fer dooty, en let you say 
whuther er no you wants ter go." 

" I 'm glad you came, Julius," I re- 
sponded. " We don't want to go driv- 
ing, of course, in the rain, but I should 
like to consult you about another mat- 
ter. I 'm thinking of taking in a piece 
of new ground. What do you imagine 
it would cost to have that neck of woods 
down by the swamp cleared up V 

The old man's countenance assumed 
an expression of unwonted seriousness, 
and he shook his head doubtfully. 

1 66 The Conjure Woman 

'' I dunno 'bout dat, suh. It mought 
cos' mo', en it mought cos' less, ez fuh 
ez money is consarned. I ain' denyin* 
you could cl'ar up dat trac' er Ian' fer a 
hund'ed er a couple er hund'ed dollahs, 
— ef you wants ter cl'ar it up. But ef 
dat 'uz my trac' er Ian', I would n' 'sturb 
it, no, suh, I would n' ; sho 's you bawn, 
I would n'." 

" But why not ? " I asked. 

" It ain' fittin' fer grapes, fer noo 
groun' nebber is." 

" I know it, but " — 

" It ain' no yeathly good fer cotton, 
'ca'se it *s too low." 

"Perhaps so; but it will raise splen- 
did corn." 

"I dunno," rejoined Julius depreca- 
torily. " It 's so nigh de swamp dat de 
*coons '11 eat up all de cawn." 

" I think I '11 risk it," I answered. 

"Well, suh," said Julius, "I wushes 
you much joy er yo' job. Ef you has 

The Gray Wolfs Hdnt 167 

bad luck er sickness er trouble er any 
kin*, doan blame me. You can't say ole 
Julius did n' wa'n you." 

"Warn him of what, Uncle Julius ?" 
asked my wife. 

*' Er de bad luck w'at follers folks 
w'at 'sturbs dat trac' er Ian'. Dey is 
snakes en sco'pions in dem woods. En 
ef you manages ter 'scape de p'isen ani- 
mals, you is des boun' ter hab a ha'nt 
ter settle wid, — ef you doan hab two." 

" Whose haunt .'' " my wife demanded, 
with growing interest. 

" De gray wolf's ha'nt, some folks 
calls it, — but I knows better." 

" Tell us about it, Uncle Julius," said 
my wife. " A story will be a godsend 

It was not difficult to induce the old 
man to tell a story, if he were in a remi- 
niscent mood. Of tales of the old sla- 
very days he seemed indeed to possess 
an exhaustless store, — some weirdly 

1 68 TJie Co7ijiire Woman 

grotesque, some broadly humorous ; some 
bearing the stamp of truth, faint, per- 
haps, but still discernible ; others palpa- 
ble inventions, whether his own or not 
we never knew, though his fancy doubt- 
less embellished them. But even the 
wildest was not without an element of 
pathos, — the tragedy, it might be, of 
the story itself; the shadow, never ab- 
sent, of slavery and of ignorance ; the 
sadness, always, of life as seen by the 
fading light of an old man's memory. 

"Way back yander befo' de wah," 
began Julius, " ole Mars Dugal' McAdoo 
useter own a nigger name' Dan. Dan 
wuz big en strong en hearty en peace- 
able en good-nachu'd most er de time, 
but dange'ous ter aggervate. He alluz 
done his task, en nebber had no trouble 
wid de w'ite folks, but woe be unter 
de nigger w'at 'lowed he c'd fool wid 
Dan, fer he wuz mos' sho' ter git a good 
lammin'. Soon ez eve'ybody foun' Dan 

The Gray Wolfs Hant 169 

out, dey did n' many un 'em 'temp' ter 
*sturb 'im. De one dat did would 'a' 
wush' he had n', ef he could 'a' libbed 
long ernuff ter do any wushin'. 

" It all happen' dis erway. Dey wuz 
a cunjuh man w'at libbed ober t' other 
side er de Lumbe'ton Road. He had 
be'n de only cunjuh doctor in de naber- 
hood fer lo ! dese many yeahs, 'tel ole 
Aun' Peggy sot up in de bizness down 
by de Wim'l'ton Road. Dis cunjuh 
man had a son w'at libbed wid 'im, en 
it wuz dis yer son w'at got mix' up wid 
Dan, — en all 'bout a 'oman. 

"Dey wuz a gal on de plantation 
name' Mahaly. She wuz a monst'us 
lackly gal, — tall en soopl', wid big eyes, 
en a small foot, en a lively tongue, en 
w'en Dan tuk ter gwine wid 'er eve'y- 
body 'lowed dey wuz well match', en 
none er de yuther nigger men on de 
plantation das' ter go nigh her, fer dey 
wuz all feared er Dan. 

I/O The Conjure Woman 

" Now, it happen' dat dis yer cunjuh 
man's son wuz gwine 'long de road one 
day, w'en who sh'd come pas' but Ma- 
haly. En de minute dis man sot eyes 
on Mahaly, he 'lowed he wuz gwine ter 
hab her fer hisse'f. He come up side 
er her en 'mence* ter talk ter her ; but 
she didn' paid no 'tention ter 'im, fer 
she wuz studyin' 'bout Dan, en she did 
n' lack dis nigger's looks nohow. So 
w'en she got ter whar she wuz gwine, 
dis yer man wa'n't no fu'ther 'long dan 
he wuz w'en he sta'ted. 

" Co'se, atter he had made up his min' . 
fer ter git Mahaly, he 'mence' ter 'quire 
'roun', en soon foun' out all 'bout Dan, 
en w'at a dange'ous nigger he wuz. But 
dis man 'lowed his daddy wuz a cunjuh 
man, en so he 'd come out all right in de 
een' ; en he kep' right on atter Mahaly. 
Meanw'iles Dan's marster had said dey 
could git married ef dey wanter, en so 
Dan en Mahaly had tuk up wid one er- 

The Gray Wolfs Ha'nt 171 

nudder, en wuz libbin' in a cabin by dey- 
se'ves, en wuz des wrop' up in one er- 

**But dis yer cunjuh man's son did n' 
'pear ter min' Dan's takin' up wid Ma- 
haly, en he kep' on hangin' 'roun' des de 
same, 'tel fin'lly one day Mahaly sez ter 
Dan, sez she : — 

" * I wush you 'd do sump'n ter stop 
dat free nigger man fum follerin' me 
'roun'. I doan lack him nohow, en I 
ain' got no time fer ter was'e wid no 
man but you.' 

** Co'se Dan got mad w'en he beared 
'bout dis man pest'rin' Mahaly, en de 
nex' night, w'en he seed dis nigger 
comin' 'long de road, he up en ax' 'im 
w'at he mean by hangin' 'roun' his 'oman. 
De man did n' 'spon' ter suit Dan, en 
one wo'd led ter ernudder, 'tel bimeby 
dis cunjuh man's son pull' out a knife 
en sta'ted ter stick it in Dan ; but befo' 
he could git it drawed good, Dan haul' 


172 The Conjure Woman 

off en hit *im in de head so ha'd dat he 
nebber got up. Dan 'lowed he 'd come 
to atter a w'ile en go 'long 'bout his biz- 
ness, so he went off en lef 'im layin' 
dere on de groun'. 

" De nex* mawnin' de man wuz foun* 
dead. Dey wuz a great 'miration made 
'bout it, but Dan did n' say nuffin, en 
none er de yuther niggers had n' seed 
de fight, so dey wa'n't no way ter tell 
who done de killin'. En bein' ez it wuz 
a free nigger, en dey wa'n't no w'ite 
folks 'speshly int'rusted, dey wa'n't nuf- 
fin done 'bout it, en de cunjuh man come 
en tuk his son en kyared 'im 'way en 
buried 'im. 

*' Now, Dan had n' meant ter kill dis 
nigger, en w'iles he knowed de man 
had n' got no mo' d'n he desarved, Dan 
'mence' ter worry mo' er less. Fer he 
knowed dis man's daddy would wuk his 
roots en prob'ly fin* out who had killt 
*is son, en make all de trouble fer 'im 

The Gray Wolfs Hdnt 173 

he could. En Dan kep' on studyin' 
'bout dis 'tel he got so he did n' ha'dly 
das' ter eat er drink fer fear dis cunjuh 
man had p'isen' de vittles er de water. 
Fin'lly he 'lowed he 'd go ter see Aun' 
Peggy, de noo cunjuh 'oman w'at had 
moved down by de Wim'l'ton Road, en 
ax her fer ter do sump'n ter pertec' 'im 
fum dis cunjuh man. So he tuk a peck 
er 'taters en went down ter her cabin 
one night. 

" Aun' Peggy beared his tale, en den 
sez she : — 

" ' Dat cunjuh man is mo' d'n twice't 
ez ole ez I is, en he kin make monst'us 
powe'ful goopher. W'at you needs is a 
life-cha'm, en I '11 make you one ter-mor- 
rer ; it 's de on'y thing w'at '11 do you 
any good. You leabe me a couple er 
ha'rs fum yo' head, en fetch me a pig 
ter-morrer night fer ter roas', en w'en 
you come I '11 hab de cha'm all ready 
fer you.' 

1/4 The Cojijtire Woman 

" So Dan went down ter Aun' Peggy 
de nex' night, — wid a young shote, — en 
'Aun' Peggy gun 'im de cha'm. She 
had tuk de ha'rs Dan had lef wid 'er, 
en a piece er red flannin, en some roots 
en yarbs, en had put 'em in a little bag 
made out'n 'coon-skin. 

" ' You take dis cha'm,' sez she, ' en 
put it in a bottle er a tin box, en bury 
it deep unner de root er a live-oak tree, 
en ez long ez it stays dere safe en soun', 
dey ain' no p'isen kin p'isen you, dey 
ain' no rattlesnake kin bite you, dey 
ain' no sco'pion kin sting you. Dis yere 
cunjuh man mought do one thing er 
'nudder ter you, but he can't kill you. 
So you neenter be at all skeered, but go 
'long 'bout yo' bizness en doan bother 
yo mm . 

'* So Dan went down by de ribber, en 
'way up on de bank he buried de cha'm 
deep unner de root er a live-oak tree, en 
kivered it up en stomp' de dirt down en 

The Gray Wolfs Hdnt 175 

scattered leaves ober de spot, en den 
went home wid his min' easy. 

" Sho' 'nuff, dis yer cunjuh man wukked 
his roots, des ez Dan had 'spected he 
would, en soon Tarn* who killt his son. 
En co'se he made up his min' fer ter git 
eben wid Dan. So he sont a rattle- 
snake fer ter sting 'im, but de rattle- 
snake say de nigger's heel wuz so ha'd 
he could n' git his sting in. Den he 
sont his jay-bird fer ter put p'isen in 
Dan's vittles, but de p'isen did n' wuk. 
Den de cunjuh man 'low' he 'd double 
Dan all up wid de rheumatiz, so he 
could n' git 'is han' ter his mouf ter eat, 
en would hafter sta've ter def ; but Dan 
went ter Aun' Peggy, en she gun 'im a' 
'intment ter kyo de rheumatiz. Den de 
cunjuh man 'lowed he 'd bu'n Dan up 
wid a fever, but Aun' Peggy tol' 'im how 
ter make some yarb tea fer dat. Nuffin 
dis man tried would kill Dan, so fin'lly 
de cunjuh man 'lowed Dan mus' hab a 

176 The Conjure Woman 

"Now, dis yer jay-bird de cunjuh man 
had wuz a monst'us sma't creeter, — fac', 
de niggers 'lowed he wuz de ole Debbil 
hisse'f, des settin' roun' waitin' ter kyar 
dis ole man erway w'en he 'd retch' de 
een' er his rope. De cunjuh man sont 
dis jay-bird fer ter watch Dan en fin* 
out whar he kep' his cha'm. De jay-bird 
hung roun' Dan fer a week er so, en 
one day he seed Dan go down by de 
ribber en look at a live-oak tree ; en den 
de jay-bird went back ter his marster, 
en tol' 'im he 'spec' de nigger kep' his 
life-cha'm under dat tree. 

" De cunjuh man lafft en lafft, en he 
put on his bigges' pot, en fill' it wid his 
stronges' roots, en b'iled it en b'iled it, 
'tel bimeby de win' blowed en blowed, 
'tel it blowed down de live-oak tree. 
Den he stirred some more roots in de 
pot, en it rained en rained 'tel de water 
run down de ribber bank en wash' Dan's 
life-cha'm inter de ribber, en de bottle 

The Gray Wolfs Ha'nt 177 

went bobbin' down de current des ez 
onconsarned ez ef it wa'n't takin' po' 
Dan's chances all 'long wid it. En den 
de cunjuh man lafft some mo', en 'lowed 
ter hisse'f dat he wuz gwine ter fix Dan 
now, sho' 'nuff ; he wa'n't gwine ter kill 
*im des yet, fer he could do sump'n ter 
'im w'at would hu't wusser 'n killin'. 

" So dis cunjuh man 'mence' by gwine 
up ter Dan's cabin eve'y night, en takin' 
Dan out in his sleep en ridin* 'im roun' 
de roads en fiel's ober de rough groun'. 
In de mawnin' Dan would be ez ti'ed ez 
ef he had n' be'n ter sleep. Dis kin' er 
thing kep' up fer a week er so, en Dan 
had des 'bout made up his min' fer ter 
go en see Aun' Peggy ag'in, w'en who 
sh'd he come across, gwine 'long de 
road one day, to'ds sundown, but dis yer 
cunjuh man. Dan felt kinder skeered 
at fus' ; but den he 'membered 'bout his 
life-cha'm, w'ich he had n' be'n ter see 
fer a week er so, en 'lowed wuz safe en 

1/8 The Conjtire Woman 

soun' unner de live-oak tree, en so he 
hilt up 'is head en walk' 'long, des lack 
he did n' keer nuffin 'bout dis man no 
mo' d'n any yuther nigger. Wen he 
got close ter de cunjuh man, dis cunjuh 
man sez, sezee : — 

"*Hoddy, Brer Dan? I hopes you 
er well ? * 

"Wen Dan seed de cunjuh man wuz 
in a good humor en did n' 'pear ter bear 
no malice, Dan 'lowed mebbe de cunjuh 
man had n' foun' out who killt his son, 
en so he 'termine' fer ter let on lack he 
did n' know nuffin, en so sezee : — 

" *■ Hoddy, Unk' Jube ? ' — dis ole cun- 
juh man's name wuz Jube. * I 's p'utty 
well, I thank you. How is you feelin* 
dis mawnin ' ? ' 

" * I 's feelin' ez well ez a' ole nigger 
could feel w'at had los' his only son, en 
his main 'pen'ence in 'is ole age. 

" ' But den my son wuz a bad boy,* 
sezee, * en I could n' 'spec' nuffin e'se. 

The Gray Wolfs Hant 179 

I tried ter Tarn him de arrer er his ways 
en make him go ter chu'ch en pra'r- 
meetin' ; but it wa'n't no use. I dunno 
who killt 'im, en I doan wanter know, 
fer I 'd be mos' sho' ter fin' out dat my 
boy had sta'ted de fuss. Ef I 'd 'a' had 
a son lack you, Brer Dan, I 'd 'a' be'n a 
proud nigger ; oh, yas, I would, sho 's 
you bawn. But you ain' lookin' ez well 
ez you oughter. Brer Dan. Dey 's 
sump'n de matter wid you, en w'at 's 
mo', I 'spec' you dunno w'at it is.' 

" Now, dis yer kin' er talk nach'ly 
th'owed Dan off'n his gya'd, en fus' 
thing he knowed he wuz talkin' ter dis 
ole cunjuh man des lack he wuz one er 
his bes' frien's. He tol' 'im all 'bout 
not feelin' well in de mawnin', en ax' 
'im ef he could tell w'at wuz de matter 
wid 'im. 

" * Yas,' sez de cunjuh man. * Dey is 
a witch be'n ridin' you right 'long. I 
kin see de marks er de bridle on yo' 

l8o The Conjure Woman 

mouf. En I '11 des bet yo' back is raw 
whar she 's be'n beatin' you.' 

"*Yas/ 'spon' Dan, 'so it is.* He 
had n' notice it befo', but now he felt 
des lack de hide had be'n tuk off'n 'im. 

" ' En yo* thighs is des raw whar de 
spurrers has be'n driv* in you,* sez de 
cunjuh man. * You can't see de raw 
spots, but you kin feel 'em.* 

** ' Oh, yas,' 'lows Dan, ' dey does hu't 
pow'ful bad.' 

" * En w'at 's mo',' sez de cunjuh man, 
comin' up close ter Dan en whusp'in' in 
his yeah, * I knows who it is be'n ridin* 

"'Who is it?* ax' Dan. 'Tell me 
who it is.' 

" ' It 's a' ole nigger 'oman down by 
Rockfish Crick. She had a pet rabbit, 
en you cotch' *im one day, en she 's been 
squarin' up wid you eber sence. But 
you better stop her, er e'se you '11 be rid 
ter def in a mont' er so.' 

The Gray Wolfs Haiit i8i 

** * No,' sez Dan, * she can't kill me, 

" * I dunno how dat is/ said de cun- 
juh man, 'but she kin make yo' life 
mighty mis'able. Ef I wuz in yo' place, 
I 'd stop her right off.' 

" * But how is I gwine ter stop her ? ' 
ax' Dan. * I dunno nuffin 'bout stoppin' 

" * Look a heah, Dan,' sez de yuther ; 
* you is a good young man. I lacks you 
monst'us well. Fac', I feels lack some 
er dese days I mought buy you fum yo' 
marster, ef I could eber make money 
ernuff at my bizness dese hard times, en 
'dop' you fer my son. I lacks you so well 
dat I 'm gwine ter he'p you git rid er dis 
yer witch fer good en all ; fer des ez 
long ez she libs, you is sho' ter hab trou- 
ble, en trouble, en mo' trouble.' 

" * You is de bes' frien' I got, Unk' 
Jube,' sez Dan, *en I '11 'member yo' 
kin'ness ter my dyin' day. Tell me how 

1 82 The Conjure Woman 

I kin git rid er dis yer ole witch w'at 's 
be'n ridin' me so ha'd.' 

*'*In de fus' place,' sez de cunjuh 
man, ^ dis ole witch nebber comes in 
her own shape, but eve'y night, at ten 
o'clock, she tu'ns herse'f inter a black 
cat, en runs down ter yo' cabin en bridles 
you, en mounts you, en dribes you out 
th'oo de chimbly, en rides you ober de 
roughes' places she kin fin'. All you 
got ter do is ter set fer her in de bushes 
'side er yo' cabin, en hit her in de head 
wid a rock er a lighterd-knot w'en she 
goes pas'.' 

" * But,' sez Dan, ' how kin I see her 
in de da'k ? En s'posen I hits at her 
en misses her } Er s'posen I des woun's 
her, en she gits erway, — w'at she gwine 
do ter me den } ' 

'* * I is done studied 'bout all dem 
things,' sez de cunjuh man, *en it 'pears 
ter me de bes' plan fer you ter foller is 
ter lemme tu'n you ter some creetur 

The Gray Wolfs Hant 183 

w'at kin see in de da'k, en w'at kin run 
des ez fas' ez a cat, en w'at kin bite, 
en bite fer ter kill ; en den you won't 
hafter hab no trouble atter de job is 
done. I dunno whuther you 'd lack dat 
er no, but dat is de sho'es' way.' 

"'I doan keer,' 'spon' Dan. * I 'd 
des ez lief be anything fer a' hour er so, 
ef I kin kill dat ole witch. You kin do 
des w'at you er mineter.' 

** ' All right, den,' sez de cunjuh man, 
•you come down ter my cabin at half- 
past nine o'clock ter-night, en I 'II fix 
you up.' 

" Now, dis cunjuh man, w'en he had 
got th'oo talkin' wid Dan, kep' on down 
de road 'long de side er de plantation, 
'tel he met Mahaly comin' home fum 
wuk des atter sundown. 

" ' Hoddy do, ma'm,' sezee ; * is yo' 
name Sis' Mahaly, w'at b'longs ter Mars 
Dugal' McAdoo > ' 

" ' Yas,' 'spon' Mahaly, ' dat 's my 
name, en I b'longs ter Mars Dugal'.' 

184 The Conjure Woman 

" * Well/ sezee, * yo' husban' Dan wuz 
down by my cabin dis ebenin*, en he got 
bit by a spider er sump'n, en his foot is 
swoir up so he can't walk. En he ax' 
me fer ter fin' you en fetch you down 
dere ter he'p 'im home.' 

" Co'se Mahaly wanter see w'at had 
happen' ter Dan, en so she sta'ted down 
de road wid de cunjuh man. Ez soon 
ez he got her inter his cabin, he shet de 
do*, en sprinkle' some goopher mixtry 
on her, en tu'nt her ter a black cat. 
Den he tuk'n put her in a bairl, en put 
a bo'd on de bairl, en a rock on de bo'd, 
en lef her dere 'tel he got good en 
ready fer ter use her. 

"'Long 'bout half -pas' nine o'clock 
Dan come down ter de cunjuh man's 
cabin. It wuz a wa'm night, en de do' 
wuz stan'in' open. De cunjuh man 
'vited Dan ter come in, en pass' de 
time er day wid 'im. Ez soon ez Dan 
'mence' talkin', he beared a cat miauin' 

The Gray Wolfs Hdnt 185 

en scratchin' en gwine on at a tarrable 

'' ' Wat 's all dat fuss 'bout ? ' ax' Dan. 

" ' Oh, dat ain' nuffin but my ole gray 
tomcat,' sez de cunjuh man. *I has 
ter shet 'im up sometimes fer ter keep 
'im in nights, en co'se he doan lack it. 

" ' Now,' 'lows de cunjuh man, * lemme 
tell you des w'at you is got ter do. 
Wen you ketches dis witch, you mus* 
take her right by de th'oat en bite her 
right th'oo de neck. Be sho' yo' teef 
goes th'oo at de fus' bite, en den you 
won't nebber be bothe'd no mo' by dat 
witch. En w'en you git done, come 
back heah en I '11 tu'n you ter yo'se'f 
ag'in, so you kin go home en git yo' 
night's res'.' 

*'Den de cunjuh man gun Dan 
sump'n nice en sweet ter drink out'n a 
new go'd, en in 'bout a minute Dan foun' 
hisse'f tu'nt ter a gray wolf; en soon 
ez he felt all fo' er his noo feet on de 

1 86 The Conjure Woman 

groun', he sta'ted off fas' ez he could fer 
his own cabin, so he could be sho' en be 
dere time ernuff ter ketch de witch, en 
put a* een' ter her kyarin's-on. 

'*Ez soon ez Dan wuz gone good, de 
cunjuh man tuk de rock off'n de bo'd, 
en de bo'd off'n de bairl, en out le'p' 
Mahaly en sta'ted fer ter go home, des 
lack a cat er a 'oman er anybody e'se 
would w'at wuz in trouble ; en it wa'n't 
many minutes befo' she wuz gwine up 
de path ter her own do'. 

" Meanw'iles, w'en Dan had retch' de 
cabin, he had hid hisse'f in a bunch er 
jimson weeds in de ya'd. He hadn' 
wait' long befo' he seed a black cat run 
up de path to'ds de do'. Des ez soon 
ez she got close ter 'im, he le'p' out en 
ketch' her by de th'oat, en got a grip 
on her, des lack de cunjuh man had tol' 
'im ter do. En lo en behol' ! no sooner 
had de blood 'mence' ter flow dan de 
black cat tu'nt back ter Mahaly, en Dan 

The Gray Wolfs Hant 187 

seed dat he had killt his own wife. En 
w'iles her bref wuz gwine she call* out : 

*' * O Dan ! O my husban' ! come en 
he'p me ! come en sabe me fum dis wolf 
w'at 's kilHn' me ! ' 

"Wen po' Dan sta'ted to'ds her, ez 
any man nach'ly would, it des made her 
holler wuss en wuss ; fer she did n' 
knowed dis yer wolf wuz her Dan. En 
Dan des had ter hide in de weeds, en 
grit his teef en hoi' hisse'f in, 'tel she 
passed out'n her mis'ry, callin' fer Dan ter 
de las', en wond'rin' w'y he did n' come 
en he'p her. En Dan 'lowed ter hisse'f 
he 'd ruther 'a' be'n killt a dozen times 'n 
ter 'a' done w'at he had ter Mahaly. 

" Dan wuz mighty nigh 'stracted, but 
w'en Mahaly wuz dead en he got his 
min' straighten' out a little, it did n' 
take 'im mo' d'n a minute er so fer ter 
see th'oo all de cunjuh man's lies, en 
how de cunjuh man had fooled 'im en 
made 'im kill Mahaly, fer ter git eben 

1 88 The Conjicre Woman 

wid 'im fer killin' er his son. He kep' 
gittin' madder en madder, en Mahaly 
had n' much mo' d'n drawed her' las bref 
befo' he sta'ted back ter de cunjuh 
man's cabin ha'd ez he could run. 

"Wen he got dere, de do' wuz stan'in' 
open ; a lighterd-knot wuz flick'rin' on 
de h'a'th, en de ole cunjuh man wuz 
settin' dere noddin' in de corner. Dan 
le'p' in de do' en jump' fer dis man's 
th'oat, en got de same grip on 'im w'at 
de cunjuh man had tol' 'im 'bout half a' 
hour befo'. It wuz ha'd wuk dis time, 
fer de ole man's neck wuz monst'us 
tough en stringy, but Dan hilt on long 
ernuff ter be sho' his job wuz done 
right. En eben den he did n' hoi' on 
long ernuff ; fer w'en he tu'nt de cun- 
juh man loose en he fell ober on de flo', 
de cunjuh man rollt his eyes at Dan, en 
sezee : — 

" * I 's eben wid you. Brer Dan, en 
you er eben wid me ; you killt my son 

The Gray Wolfs Hdnt 189 

en I killt yo' 'oman. En ez I doan want 
no mo' d'n w'at 's fair 'bout dis thing, 
ef you '11 retch up wid yo' paw en take 
down dat go'd hangin' on dat peg ober 
de chimbly, en take a sip er dat mixtry, 
it '11 tu'n you back ter a nigger ag'in, 
en I kin die mo' sad'sfied 'n ef I lef 
you lack you is.' 

" Dan nebber 'lowed fer a minute dat 
a man would lie wid his las' bref, en 
co'se he seed de sense er gittin' tu'nt 
back befo' de cunjuh man died; so he 
clumb on a chair en retch' fer de go'd, en 
tuk a sip er de mixtry. En ez soon ez 
he 'd done dat de cunjuh man lafft his 
las' laf, en gapsed out wid 'is las' gaps : — 

" ' Uh huh ! I reckon I 's square wid 
you now fer killin' me, too ; fer dat 
goopher on you is done fix' en sot now 
fer good, en all de cunj'in' in de worl* 
won't nebber take it off. 

* Wolf you is en wolf you stays, 
All de rest er yo' bawn days.* 

1 90 The Conjnre Woman 

" Co'se Brer Dan could n' do nuffin. 
He knowed it wa'n't no use, but he 
dumb up on de chimbly en got down 
de go'ds en bottles en yuther cunjuh 
fixin's, en tried *em all on hisse'f, but dey 
didn' do no good. Den he run down 
ter ole Aun' Peggy, but she did n' know 
de wolf langwidge, en couldn't 'a' tuk 
off dis yuther goopher nohow, eben ef 
she 'd 'a' unnerstood w'at Dan wuz sayin'. 
So po* Dan wuz bleedgd ter be a wolf all 
de rest er his bawn days. 

" Dey foun' Mahaly down by her own 
cabin nex* mawnin', en eve'ybody made 
a great 'miration 'bout how she 'd be'n 
killt. De niggers 'lowed a wolf had bit 
her. De w'ite folks say no, dey ain' be'n 
no wolves 'roun' dere fer ten yeahs er 
mo' ; en dey did n' know w'at ter make 
out'n it. En w'en dey could n' fin' Dan 
nowhar, dey 'lowed he 'd quo'lled wid 
Mahaly en killt her, en run erway ; en 
dey did n' know w'at ter make er dat, 

The Gray Wolfs Haiit 191 

fer Dan en Mahaly wuz de mos' lovin' 
couple on de plantation. Dey put de 
dawgs on Dan's scent, en track' 'im 
down ter ole Unk' Jube's cabin, en 
foun' de ole man dead, en dey did n' 
know w'at ter make er dat ; en den 
Dan's scent gun out, en dey did n' 
know w'at ter make er dat. Mars 
Dugal' tuk on a heap 'bout losin' two er 
his bes' ban's in one day, en ole missis 
'lowed it wuz a jedgment on 'im fer 
sump'n he 'd done. But dat fall de 
craps wuz monst'us big, so Mars Dugal' 
say de Lawd had temper' de win' ter de 
sho'n ram, en make up ter 'im fer w'at 
he had los'. 

"Dey buried Mahaly down in dat 
piece er low groun' you er talkin' 'bout 
cl'arin' up. Ez fer po' Dan, he didn' 
hab nowhar e'se ter go, so he des stayed 
'roun' Mahaly's grabe, w'en he wa'n't 
out in de yuther woods gittin' sump'n 
ter eat. En sometimes, w'en night 

ig2 The Conjure Woman 

would come, de niggers useter heah 
him howlin' en howlin' down dere, des 
fittin' ter break his hea't. En den some 
mo' un 'em said dey seed Mahaly's ha'nt 
dere 'bun'ance er times, colloguin' wid 
dis gray wolf. En eben now, fifty yeahs 
sence, long atter ole Dan has died en 
dried up in de woods, his ha'nt en Ma- 
haly's hangs Voun' dat piece er low 
groun', en eve'body w'at goes 'bout dere 
has some bad luck er 'nuther ; fer ha'nts 
doan lack ter be 'sturb' on dey own 

The air had darkened while the old 
man related this harrowing tale. The 
rising wind whistled around the eaves, 
slammed the loose window-shutters, and, 
still increasing, drove the rain in fiercer 
gusts into the piazza. As Julius finished 
his story and we rose to seek shelter 
within doors, the blast caught the angle 
of some chimney or gable in the rear of 
the house, and bore to our ears a long, 

The Gray Wolfs Hant 193 

wailing note, an epitome, as it were, of 
remorse and hopelessness. 

" Dat 's des lack po' ole Dan useter 
howl," observed Julius, as he reached 
for his umbrella, " en w'at I be'n tellin' 
you is de reason I doan lack ter see 
dat neck er woods cl'ared up. Co'se it 
b'longs ter you, en a man kin do ez he 
choose' wid 'is own. But ef you gits 
rheumatiz er fever en agur, er ef you 
er snake-bit er p'isen' wid some yarb er 
'nuther, er ef a tree falls on you, er a 
ha'nt runs you en makes you git 'stracted 
in yo' min', lack some folks I knows w'at 
went foolin' 'roun' dat piece er Ian', you 
can't say I neber wa'ned you, suh, en 
tol' you w'at you mought look fer en be 
she' ter fin'.' 

> )> 

When I cleared up the land in ques- 
tion, which was not until the following 
year, I recalled the story Julius had 
told us, and looked in vain for a sunken 

194 The Conjure Woman 

grave or perhaps a few weather-bleached 
bones of some denizen of the forest. I 
cannot say, of course, that some one 
had not been buried there ; but if so, 
the hand of time had long since removed 
any evidence of the fact. If some lone 
wolf, the last of his pack, had once made 
his den there, his bones had long since 
crumbled into dust and gone to fertilize 
the rank vegetation that formed the un- 
dergrowth of this wild spot. I did find, 
however, a bee-tree in the woods, with 
an ample cavity in its trunk, and an 
opening through which convenient ac- 
cess could be had to the stores of honey 
within. I have reason to believe that 
ever since I had bought the place, and 
for many years before, Julius had been 
getting honey from this tree. The gray 
wolf's haunt had doubtless proved use- 
ful in keeping off too inquisitive people, 
who might have interfered with his 


" I HATE you and despise you ! I 
wish never to see you or speak to you 
again ! " 

*' Very well ; I will take care that 
henceforth you have no opportunity to 
do either." 

These words — the first in the pas- 
sionately vibrant tones of my sister-in- 
law, and the latter in the deeper and 
more restrained accents of an angry 
man — startled me from my nap. I had 
been dozing in my hammock on the 
front piazza, behind the honeysuckle 
vine. I had been faintly aware of a 
buzz of conversation in the parlor, but 
had not at all avv^akened to its import 
until these sentences fell, or, I might 
rather say, were hurled upon my ear. I 
presume the young people had either 

196 The Co7ijure Woman 

not seen me lying there, — the Vene- 
tian blinds opening from the parlor win- 
dows upon the piazza were partly closed 
on account of the heat, — or else in 
their excitement they had forgotten my 

I felt somewhat concerned. The 
young man, I had remarked, was proud, 
firm, jealous of the point of honor, and, 
from my observation of him, quite likely 
to resent to the bitter end what he 
deemed a slight or an injustice. The 
girl, I knew, was quite as high-spirited 
as young Murchison. I feared she was 
not so just, and hoped she would prove 
more yielding. I knew that her affec- 
tions were strong and enduring, but that 
her temperament was capricious, and 
her sunniest moods easily overcast by 
some small cloud of jealousy or pique. 
I had never imagined, however, that she 
was capable of such intensity as was 
revealed by these few words of hers. 

Hot-Foot Hafinibal 197 

As I say, I felt concerned. I had 
learned to like Malcolm Murchison, and 
had heartily consented to his marriage 
with my ward ; for it was in that capa- 
city that I had stood for a year or two to 
my wife's younger sister, Mabel. The 
match thus rudely broken off had pro- 
mised to be another link binding me 
to the kindly Southern people among 
whom I had not long before taken up 
my residence. 

Young Murchison came out of the 
door, cleared the piazza in two strides 
without seeming aware of my presence, 
and went off down the lane at a furi- 
ous pace. A few moments later Mabel 
began playing the piano loudly, with a 
touch that indicated anger and pride and 
independence and a dash of exultation, 
as though she were really glad that she 
had driven away forever the young man 
whom the day before she had loved with 
all the ardor of a first passion. 

198 The Conjure Woman 

I hoped that time might heal the 
breach and bring the two young people 
together again. I told my wife what I 
had overheard. In return she gave me 
Mabel's version of the affair. 

" I do not see how it can ever be set- 
tled," my wife said. " It is something 
more than a mere lovers' quarrel. It 
began, it is true, because she found fault 
with him for going to church with that 
hateful Branson girl. But before it 
ended there were things said that no 
woman of any spirit could stand. I am 
afraid it is all over between them." 

I was sorry to hear this. In spite of 
the very firm attitude taken by my wife 
and her sister, I still hoped that the 
quarrel would be made up within a day 
or two. Nevertheless, when a week had 
passed with no word from young Mur- 
chison, and with no sign of relenting on 
Mabel's part, I began to think myself 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 199 

One pleasant afternoon, about ten 
days after the rupture, old Julius drove 
the rockaway up to the piazza, and my 
wife, Mabel, and I took our seats for a 
drive to a neighbor's vineyard, over on 
the Lumberton plank-road. 

"Which way shall we go," I asked, 
— " the short road or the long one ? " 

" I oruess we had better take the short 
road," answered my wife. " We will get 
there sooner." 

" It 's a mighty fine dribe roun' by de 
big road. Mis' Annie," observed Julius, 
"en it doan take much longer to git 

"No," said my wife, " I think we will 
go by the short road. There is a bay- 
tree in blossom near the mineral spring, 
and I wish to get some of the flowers." 

" I 'spec's you 'd fin' some bay-trees 
'long de big road, ma'm," suggested 

" But I know about the flowers on the 

200 The Conjure Woman 

short road, and they are the ones I 

We drove down the lane to the high- 
way, and soon struck into the short road 
leading past the mineral spring. Our 
route lay partly through a swamp, and 
on each side the dark, umbrageous foli- 
age, unbroken by any clearing, lent to 
the road solemnity, and to the air a re- 
freshing coolness. About half a mile 
from the house, and about half-way to 
the mineral spring, we stopped at the 
tree of which my wife had spoken, and 
reaching up to the low-hanging boughs, I 
gathered a dozen of the fragrant white 
flowers. When I resumed my seat in 
the rockaway, Julius started the mare. 
She went on for a few rods, until we 
had reached the edge of a branch cross- 
ing the road, when she stopped short. 

" Why did you stop, Julius ? " I 

"Ididn', suh," he replied. "'Twuz 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 201 

de mare stop'. G' 'long dere, Lucy ! 
Wat you mean by dis foolis'ness ? " 

Julius jerked the reins and applied the 
whip lightly, but the mare did not stir. 

*' Perhaps you had better get down 
and lead her," I suggested. " If you 
get her started, you can cross on the 
log and keep your feet dry." 

Julius alighted, took hold of the bri- 
dle, and vainly essayed to make the mare 
move. She planted her feet with even 
more evident obstinacy. 

"I don't know what to make of this," 
I said. *' I have never known her to 
balk before. Have you, Julius } " 

" No, suh," replied the old man, " I 
neber has. It *s a cu'ous thing ter me, 

" What 's the best way to make her 

go ? " 

" I 'spec's, suh, dat ef I 'd tu'n her 
Voun', she*d go de udder way." 

"But we want her to go this way.'* 

202 The Conpire Woman 

" Well, suh, I 'low ef we des set heah 
fo' er fibe minutes, she '11 sta't up by 

*' All right," I rejoined; "it is cooler 
here than any place I have struck to- 
day. We'll let her stand for a while, 
and see what she does." 

We had sat in silence for a few min- 
utes, when Julius suddenly ejaculated, 
" Uh huh ! I knows w'y dis mare doan 

go. It des flash' 'cross my recommem- 

b' )> 


" Why is it, Julius ? " I inquired. 

"'Ca'se she sees Chloe." 

"Where is Chloe.?" I demanded. 

" Chloe 's done be'n dead dese fo'ty 
years er mo'," the old man returned. 
" Her ha'nt is settin' ober yander on 
de udder side er de branch, unner dat 
wilier-tree, dis blessed minute." 

"Why, Julius!" said my wife, "do 
you see the haunt t " 

"No'm," he answered, shaking his 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 203 

head, " I doan see 'er, but de mare sees 

" How do you know ? " I inquired. 

" Well, suh, dis yer is a gray hoss, en 
dis yer is a Friday ; en a gray hoss kin 
alluz see a ha'nt w'at walks on Friday." 

'* Who was Chloe?" said Mabel. 

" And why does Chloe's haunt walk } " 
asked my wife. 

*'It 's all in de tale, ma'm," Julius 
replied, with a deep sigh. " It 's all in 
de tale." 

" Tell us the tale," I said. " Perhaps, 
by the time you get through, the haunt 
will go away and the mare will cross." 

I was willing to humor the old man's 
fancy. He had not told us a story for 
some time ; and the dark and solemn 
swamp around us ; the amber-colored 
stream flowing silently and sluggishly 
at our feet, like the waters of Lethe ; 
the heavy, aromatic scent of the bays, 
faintly suggestive of funeral wreaths, — 

204 The Conjure Woman 

all made the place an ideal one for a 
ghost story. 

''Chloe," Julius began in a subdued 
tone, " use' ter b'long ter ole Mars' Du- 
gal' McAdoo, — my ole marster. She 
wuz a lackly gal en a smart gal, en ole 
mis* tuk her up ter de big house, en 
I'arnt her ter wait on de w'ite folks, 'tel 
bimeby she come ter be mis's own maid, 
en 'peared ter 'low she run de house 
herse'f, ter heah her talk erbout it. I 
wuz a young boy den, en use' ter wuk 
'bout de stables, so I knowed eve'ythin' 
dat wuz gwine on 'roun' de plantation. 

" Well, one time Mars' Dugal' wanted 
a house boy, en sont down ter de qua'- 
ters fer ter hab Jeff en Hannibal come 
up ter de big house nex' mawnin'. Ole 
marster en ole mis' look' de two boys 
ober, en 'sco'sed wid deyse'ves fer a little 
w'ile, en den Mars' Dugal' sez, sezee : — 

" ' We lacks Hannibal de bes', en we 
gwine ter keep him. Heah, Hannibal, 

Hot-Foot Hamiibal 205 

you '11 wuk at de house fum now on. 
En ef you er a good nigger en min's 
yo' bizness, I '11 gib you Chloe fer a 
wife nex' spring. You other nigger, you 
Jeff, you kin go back ter de qua'ters. 
We ain' gwine ter need you.' 

"Now Chloe had be'n stan'in* dere 
behin' ole mis' dyoin' all er dis yer talk, 
en Chloe made up her min' fum de ve'y 
fus' minute she sot eyes on dem two dat 
she did n' lack dat nigger Hannibal, en 
wa'n't neber gwine keer fer 'im, en she 
wuz des ez sho' dat she lack' Jeff, en wuz 
gwine ter set sto' by 'im, whuther Mars' 
Dugal' tuk 'im in de big house er no; 
en so co'se Chloe wuz monst'us sorry 
w'en ole Mars' Dugal' tuk Hannibal en 
sont Jeff back. So she slip' roun' de 
house en waylaid Jeff on de way back 
ter de qua'ters, en tol' 'im not ter be 
down-hea'ted, fer she wuz gwine ter see 
ef she could n' fin' some way er 'nuther 
ter git rid er dat nigger Hannibal, en git 
Jeff up ter de house in his place. 

2o6 The Conjure Woman 

**De noo house boy kotch' on monst'us 
fas', en it wa'n't no time ha'dly befo* 
Mars' Dugal' en ole mis' bofe 'mence' 
ter 'low Hannibal wuz de bes' house boy 
dey eber had. He wuz peart en soopl', 
quick ez lightnin', en sha'p ez a razor. 
But Chloe did n' lack his ways. He wuz 
so sho' he wuz gwine ter git 'er in de 
spring, dat he did n* 'pear ter 'low he 
had ter do any co'tin', en w'en he 'd run 
'cross Chloe 'bout de house, he 'd swell 
roun' 'er in a biggity way en say : — 

" ' Come heah en kiss me, honey. 
You gvt^ine ter be mine in de spring. 
You doan 'pear ter be ez fon' er me ez 
you oughter be.' 

" Chloe did n' keer nuffin fer Hanni- 
bal, en had n' keered nuffin fer 'im, en 
she sot des ez much sto' by Jeff ez she 
did de day she fus' laid eyes on 'im. 
En de mo' fermilyus dis yer Hannibal 
got, de mo' Chloe let her min' run on 
Jeff, en one ebenin' she went down ter 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 207 

de qua'ters en watch', 'tel she got a 
chance fer ter talk wid 'im by hisse'f. 
En she tol' Jeff fer ter go down en see 
ole Aun' Peggy, de cunjuh 'oman down 
by de Wim'l'ton Road, en ax her ter gib 
'im sump'n ter he'p git Hannibal out'n 
de big house, so de w'ite folks 'u'd sen' 
fer Jeff ag'in. En bein' ez Jeff did n* 
hab nufifin ter gib Aun' Peggy, Chloe 
gun 'im a silber dollah en a silk han'- 
kercher fer ter pay her wid, fer Aun' 
Peggy neber lack ter wuk fer nobody 
fer nuffin. 

'* So Jeff slip' off down ter Aun' Peg- 
gy's one night, en gun 'er de present he 
brung, en tpl' 'er all 'bout 'im en Chloe 
en Hannibal, en ax' 'er ter he'p 'im out. 
Aun' Peggy tol' 'im she 'd wuk 'er roots, 
en fer 'im ter come back de nex' night, 
en she 'd tell 'im w'at she c'd do fer 'im. 

"So de nex' night Jeff went back, en 
*Aun' Peggy gun 'im a baby doll, wid a 
body made out'n a piece er co'n-stalk, 

2o8 The Conjure Woman 

en wid splinters fer a'ms en laigs, en a 
head made out'n elderberry peth, en 
two little red peppers fer feet. 

" ' Dis yer baby doll,' sez she, ' is Han- 
nibal. Dis yer peth head is Hannibal's 
head, en dese yer pepper feet is Hanni- 
bal's feet. You take dis en hide it unner 
de house, on de sill unner de do', whar 
Hannibal '11 hafter walk ober it eve'y day. 
En ez long ez Hannibal comes anywhar 
nigh dis baby doll, he '11 be des lack it is, 
— light-headed en hot-footed ; en ef dem 
two things doan git 'im inter trouble 
mighty soon, den I 'm no cunjuh 'oman. 
But w'en you git Hannibal out'n de 
house, en git all th'oo wid dis baby doll, 
you mus' fetch it back ter me, fer it 's 
monst'us powerful goopher, en is liable 
ter make mo' trouble ef you leabe it 
layin' roun'.' 

" Well, Jeff tuk de baby doll, en slip' 
up ter de big house, en whistle' ter 
Chloe, en w'en she come out he tol' 'er 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 209 

w'at ole Aim' Peggy had said. En 
Chloe showed 'im how ter git unner de 
house, en w'en he had put de cunjuh 
doll on de sill, he went 'long back ter de 
qua'ters — en des waited. 

" Nex' day, sho' 'nu£f, de goopher 
'mence' ter wuk. Hannibal sta'ted in 
de house soon in de mawnin' wid a arm- 
ful er wood ter make a fire, en he had n' 
mo' d'n got 'cross de do'-sill befo' his feet 
begun ter bu'n so dat he drap' de armful 
er wood on de fio' en woke ole mis' up a' 
hour sooner 'n yushal, en co'se ole mis' 
didn' lack dat, en spoke sha'p erbout it. 

"W'en dinner-time come, en Hanni- 
bal wuz help'n' de. cook kyar de dinner 
f'm de kitchen inter de big house, en 
wuz gittin' close ter de do' whar he had 
ter go in, his feet sta'ted ter bu'n en his 
head begun ter swim, en he let de big 
dish er chicken en dumplin's fall right 
down in de dirt, in de middle er de ya'd, 
en de w'ite folks had ter make dey din- 

2IO The Conjure Woman 

ner dat day off'n col' ham en sweet'n' 

** De nex' mawnin' he overslep' his- 
se'f, en got inter mo' trouble. Atter 
breakfus', Mars' Dugal' sont 'im ober 
ter Mars' Marrabo Utley's fer ter borry 
a monkey wrench. He oughter be'n 
back in ha'f a' hour, but he come pokin' 
home 'bout dinner-time wid a screw- 
driver stidder a monkey wrench. Mars' 
Dugal' sont ernudder nigger back wid de 
screw-driver, en Hannibal did n' git no 
dinner. 'Long in de atternoon, ole mis' 
sot Hannibal ter weedin' de flowers in 
de front gya'den, en Hannibal dug up 
all de bulbs ole mis' had sont erway fer, 
en paid a lot er money fer, en tuk 'em 
down ter de hawg-pen by de ba'nya'd, 
en fed 'em ter de hawgs. Wen ole mis' 
come out in de cool er de ebenin', en 
seed w'at Hannibal had done, she wuz 
mos' crazy, en she wrote a note en sont 
Hannibal down ter de oberseah wid it. 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 211 

''But w'at Hannibal got fum de ober- 
seah did n' 'pear ter do no good. Eve'y 
now en den 'is feet 'd 'mence ter tor- 
ment 'im, en 'is min' 'u'd git all mix' up, 
en his conduc' kep' gittin' wusser en 
wusser, 'tel fin'lly de w'ite folks could n' 
Stan' it no longer, en Mars' Dugal' tuk 
Hannibal back down ter de qua'ters. 

*' * Mr. Smif,' sez Mars' Dugal' ter de 
oberseah, ' dis yer nigger has done got 
so trifiin' yer lately dat we can't keep 
'im at de house no mo', en I 's fotch' 
'im ter you ter be straighten' up. You 's 
had 'casion ter deal wid 'im once, so he 
knows w'at ter expec'. You des take 
'im in han', en lemme know how he 
tu'ns out. En w'en de ban's comes in 
fum de fiel' dis ebenin' you kin sen' 
dat yaller nigger Jeff up ter de house. 
I '11 try 'im, en see ef he 's any better *n 

" So Jeff went up ter de big house, 
en pleas' Mars' Dugal' en ole mis' en 

212 TJie Conjure Woman 

- ■■■ - " ■ ■-■ " -I ■ — I ■ ■■ -■!' I—. - td 

de res' er de fambly so well dat dey all 
got ter lackin' 'im fus'rate ; en dey 'd 'a' 
fergot all 'bout Hannibal, ef it hadn' 
be'n fer de bad repo'ts w'at come up 
fum de qua'ters 'bout 'im fer a mont' er 
so. Fac' is, dat Chloe en Jeff wuz so 
int'rusted in one ernudder sence Jeff 
be'n up ter de house, dat dey fergot all 
'bout takin' de baby doll back ter Aun' 
Peggy, en it kep' wukkin' fer a w'ile, en 
makin' Hannibal's feet bu'n mo' er less, 
'tel all de folks on de plantation got ter 
callin' 'im Hot-Foot Hannibal. He kep' 
gittin' mo' en mo' triflin', 'tel he got de 
name er bein' de mos' no 'countes' nig- 
ger on de plantation, en Mars' Dugal* 
had ter th'eaten ter sell 'im in de spring, 
w'en bimeby de goopher quit wukkin'^ 
en Hannibal 'mence' ter pick up some 
en make folks set a little mo' sto' by 'im. 
" Now, dis yer Hannibal was a mon- 
st'us sma't nigger, en w'en he got rid er 
dem so' feet, his min' kep' runnin' on 'is 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 213 

udder troubles. Heah th'ee er fo' weeks 
befo' he 'd had a' easy job, waitin' on 
de w'ite folks, libbin' off' n de fat er de 
Ian', en promus' de fines' gal on de plan- 
tation fer a wife in de spring, en now 
heah he wuz back in de co'n-fiel', wid de 
oberseah a-cussin' en a-r'arin' ef he 
did n' get a ha'd tas' done ; wid nuffin 
but Go'n bread en bacon en merlasses ter 
eat ; en all de fiel'-han's makin' rema'ks, 
en pokin' fun at 'im 'ca'se he'd be'n sont 
back fum de big house ter de fiel'. En 
de mo' Hannibal studied 'bout it de mo' 
madder he got, 'tel he fin'lly swo' he wuz 
gwine ter git eben wid Jeff en Chloe, ef 
it wuz de las' ac'. 

"So Hannibal slipped 'way fum de 
qua'ters one Sunday en hid in de co'n 
up close ter de big house, 'tel he see 
Chloe gwine down de road. He way- 
laid her, en sezee : — 

« ' Hoddy, Chloe .? ' 

" * I ain' got no time fer ter fool wid 

214 T^he Conjure Wo^nan 

fiel'-han's,' sez Chloe, tossin' her head; 
* w'at you want wid me, Hot-Foot ? ' 

" ' I wants ter know how you en Jeff 
is gittin' 'long.' 

" * I 'lows dat 's none er yo' bizness, 
nigger. I doan see w'at 'casion any com- 
mon fiel'-han' has got ter mix in wid de 
'fairs er folks w'at libs in de big house. 
But ef it '11 do you any good ter know, 
I mought say dat me en Jeff is gittin' 
/long mighty well, en we gwine ter git 
married in de spring, en you ain' gwine 
ter be 'vited ter de weddin' nuther.' 

" * No, no ! ' sezee, ' I would n' 'spec' 
ter be 'vited ter de weddin', — a com- 
mon, low-down fiel'-han' lack / is. But 
I 's glad ter heah you en Jeff is gittin' 
'long so well. I did n' knowed but w'at 
he had 'mence' ter be a little ti'ed.' 

" * Ti'ed er me } Dat 's rediklus ! ' 
sez Chloe. * W'y, dat nigger lubs me so 
I b'liebe he 'd go th'oo fire en water fer 
me. Dat nigger is des wrop' up in me.' 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 215 

#^^"" ' .--■■■I ■■■_ ^-^^-^ 

"*Uh huh/ sez Hannibal, *den I 
reckon it mus' be some udder nigger 
w'at meets a 'oman down by de crick in 
de swamp eve'y Sunday ebenin', ter say 
nuffin 'bout two er th'ee times a week.' 

*' ' Yas, hit is ernudder nigger, en you 
is a liah w'en you say it wuz Jeff.' 

*' ' IMebbe I is a liah, en mebbe I ain' 
got good eyes. But 'less'n I is sl liah, 
en 'less'n I ain got good eyes, Jeff is 
gwine ter meet dat 'oman dis ebenin' 
'long 'bout eight o'clock right down dere 
by de crick in de swamp 'bout half-way 
betwix' dis plantation en Mars' Marrabo 

" Well, Chloe tol' Hannibal she did n* 
b'liebe a wo'd he said, en call' 'im a low- 
down nigger, who wuz tryin' ter slander 
Jeff 'ca'se he wuz mo' luckier 'n he wuz. 
But all de same, she could n' keep her 
min' fum runnin' on w'at Hannibal had 
said. She 'membered she 'd beared one 
er de niggers say dey wuz a gal ober at 

2i6 The Conjure Woman 

Mars' Marrabo Utley's plantation w'at 
Jeff use' ter go wid some befo' he got 
*quainted wid Chloe. Den she 'mence' 
ter figger back, en sho' 'nuff, dey wuz 
two er th'ee times in de las' week w'en 
she 'd be'n he'pin' de ladies wid dey 
dressin' en udder fixin's in de ebenin', en 
Jeff mought 'a' gone down ter de swamp 
widout her knowin' 'bout it at all. En 
den she 'mence' ter 'member little things 
w'at she had n' tuk no notice of befo', 
en w'at 'u'd make it 'pear lack Jeff had 
sump'n on his min'. 

" Chloe set a monst'us heap er sto' by 
Jeff, en would 'a' done mos' anythin* 
fer 'im, so long ez he stuck ter her. But 
Chloe wuz a mighty jealous 'oman, en 
w'iles she did n' b'liebe w'at Hannibal 
said, she seed how it cotdd 'a' be'n so, 
en she 'termine' fer ter fin' out fer her- 
se'f whuther it wuz so er no. 

** Now, Chloe had n' seed Jeff all day, 
fer Mars' Dugal' had sont Jeff ober ter 

Hot-Foot Hafinibal 217 

his daughter's house, young Mis' Ma'- 
g'ret's, w'at libbed 'bout fo' miles fum 
Mars' Dugal's, en Jeff wuz n' 'spected 
home 'tel ebenin. But des atter supper 
wuz ober, en w'iles de ladies wuz settin' 
out on de piazzer, Chloe slip' off fum de 
house en run down de road, — dis yer 
same road we come ; en w'en she got 
mos' ter de crick — dis yer same crick 
right befo' us — she kin' er kep' in de 
bushes at de side er de road, 'tel fin'lly 
she seed Jeff settin' on de bank on de 
udder side er de crick, — right unner dat 
ole wilier-tree droopin' ober de water 
yander. En eve'y now en den he 'd git 
up en look up de road to'ds Mars' Mar- 
rabo's on de udder side er de swamp. 

" Fus' Chloe felt lack she 'd go right 
ober de crick en gib Jeff a piece er her 
min'. Den she 'lowed she better be sho' 
befo' she done anythin'. So she belt 
herse'f in de bes' she could, gittin' mad- 
der en madder eve'y minute, 'tel bimeby 

2l8 The Conjure Woman 

she seed a 'oman comin' down de road on 
de udder side fum to'ds Mars' Marrabo 
Utley's plantation. En w'en she seed 
Jeff jump up en run to'ds dat 'oman, en 
th'ow his a'ms roun' her neck, po' Chloe 
did n' stop ter see no mo', but des tu'nt 
roun' en run up ter de house, en rush' 
up on de piazzer, en up en tol' Mars' 
Dugal' en ole mis' all 'bout de baby doll, 
en all 'bout Jeff gittin' de goopher fum 
Aun' Peggy, en 'bout w'at de goopher 
had done ter Hannibal. 

" Mars' Dugal' wuz monst'us mad. 
He did n' let on at fus' lack he b'liebed 
Chloe, but w'en she tuk en showed 'im 
whar ter fin' de baby doll. Mars* Dugal' 
tu'nt w'ite ez chalk. 

" * W'at debil's wuk is dis .-* ' sezee. 
* No wonder de po' nigger's feet eetched. 
Sump'n got ter be done ter Tarn dat ole 
witch ter keep her ban's off'n my nig- 
gers. En ez fer dis yer Jeff, I 'm gwine 
ter do des w'at I promus', so de darkies 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 219 

on dis plantation '11 know I means w'at 
I sez.' 

" Fer Mars' Dugal' had warned de 
ban's befo* 'bout foolin' wid cunju'ation ; 
fac', he had los' one er two niggers his- 
se'f fum day bein' goophered, en he 
would 'a' had ole Aun' Peggy whip' long 
ago, on'y Aun' Peggy wuz a free 'oman, 
en he wuz 'feard she 'd cunjuh him. En 
w'iles Mars' Dugal' say he did n' b'liebe 
in cunj'in' en sich, he 'peared ter 'low it 
wuz bes' ter be on de safe side, en let 
Aun' Peggy alone. 

" So Mars' Dugal' done des ez he say. 
Ef ole mis' had ple'd fer Jeff, he mought 
'a' kep' 'im. But ole mis' had n' got 
ober losin' dem bulbs yit, en she neber 
said a wo'd. Mars' Dugal' tuk Jeff ter 
town nex' day en' sol' 'im ter a spekila- 
ter, who stated down de ribber wid 'im 
nex' mawnin' on a steamboat, fer ter 
take 'im ter Alabama. 

" Now, w'en Chloe tol' ole Mars' Du- 

220 The Conjure Woman 

gal* 'bout dis yer baby doll en dis udder 
goopher, she had n' ha'dly 'lowed Mars* 
Dugal' would sell Jeff down Souf. How- 
someber, she wuz so mad wid Jeff dat 
she 'suaded herse'f she did n' keer ; en 
so she hilt her head up en went roun* 
lookin' lack she wuz rale glad 'bout it. 
But one day she wuz walkin* down de 
road, w'en who sh'd come 'long but dis 
yer Hannibal. 

** W'en Hannibal seed 'er, he bus* out 
lafifin' fittin' fer ter kill: 'Yah, yah, 
yah ! ho, ho, ho ! ha, ha, ha ! Oh, hoi* 
me, honey, hoi' me, er I '11 laf myse'f ter 
def. I ain' nebber laf so much sence I 
be'n bawn.' 

*' ' Wat you laffin* at, Hot-Foot V 

" ' Yah, yah, yah ! Wat I laffin' at t 
Wy, I 's laffin' at myse'f, tooby sho', — 
laffin' ter think w'at a fine 'oman I 

" Chloe tu'nt pale, en her hea't come 
up in her mouf. 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 221 

"*W'at you mean, nigger?' sez she, 
ketchin* holt er a bush by de road fer 
ter stiddy herse'f. ' Wat you mean by 
de kin* er 'ornan you made ? ' 

" * Wat do I mean ? I means dat I 
got squared up wid you fer treatin' me 
de way you done, en I got eben wid dat 
yaller nigger Jeff fer cuttin' me out. 
Now, he 's gwine ter know w'at it is ter 
eat co'n bread en merlasses once mo', 
en wuk fum dayhght ter da'k, en ter 
hab a oberseah dribin' 'im fum one day's 
een' ter de udder. I means dat I sont 
wo'd ter Jeff dat Sunday dat you wuz 
gwine ter be ober ter Mars' Marrabo's 
visitin' dat ebenin*, en you want 'im 
ter meet you down by de crick on de 
way home en go de rest er de road wid 
you. En den I put on a frock en a sun- 
bonnet, en fix' myse'f up ter look lack a 
'oman ; en w'en Jeff seed me comin', he 
run ter meet me, en you seed 'im, — fer 
I 'd be'n watchin' in de bushes befo' en 

222 The Conjure Woman 

'skivered you comin' down de road. En 
now I reckon you en Jeff bofe knows 
w'at it means ter mess wid a nigger 
lack me.' 

*' Po' Chloe had n' beared mo' d'n half 
er de las' part er w'at Hannibal said, 
but she had beared 'nuff to Tarn dat dis 
nigger had fooled her en Jeff, en dat po' 
Jeff had n' done nuffin, en dat fer lov- 
in' her too much en goin' ter meet her 
she had cause' *im ter be sol' erway whar 
she'd neber, neber see 'im no mo'. 
De sun mought shine by day, de moon 
by night, de flowers mought bloom, en 
de mawkin'-birds mought sing, but po' 
Jeff wuz done los' ter her fereber en 

" Hannibal had n' mo' d'n finish' w'at 
he had ter say, w'en Chloe's knees gun 
'way unner her, en she fell down in de 
road, en lay dere half a' hour er so befo' 
she come to. W'en she did, she crep' 
up ter de house des ez pale ez a ghos'. 

Hot-Foot Hamtibal 223 

En fer a mont' er so she crawled roun* 
de house, en 'peared ter be so po'ly dat 
Mars' Dugal' sont fer a doctor ; en de 
doctor kep' on axin' her questions 'tel 
he foun' she wuz des pinin* erway fer 

"Wen he tol' Mars' Dugal', Mars' 
Dugal' lafft, en said he 'd fix dat. She 
could hab de noo house boy fer a hus- 
ban'. But ole mis' say, no, Chloe ain' 
dat kin'er gal, en dat Mars' Dugal' sh'd 
buy Jeff back. 

"So Mars' Dugal' writ a letter ter 
dis yer spekilater down ter Wim'l'ton, 
en tol' ef he ain' done sol' dat nigger 
Souf w'at he bought fum 'im, he 'd lack 
ter buy 'im back ag'in. Chloe 'mence' 
ter pick up a little w'en ole mis' tol' her 
'bout dis letter. Howsomeber, bimeby 
Mars' Dugal' got a' answer fum de spek- 
ilater, who said he wuz monst'us sorry, 
but Jeff had fell ove'boa'd er jumped 
off'n de steamboat on de way ter Wim'- 

224 The Conjure Woman 

I'ton, en got drownded, en co'se he could 
n' sell 'im back, much ez he 'd lack ter 
*bleedge Mars' Dugal'. 

" Well, atter Chloe beared dis, she 
wa'n't much mo' use ter nobody. She 
pu'tended ter do her wuk, en ole mis' 
put up wid her, en had de doctor gib 
her medicine, en let 'er go ter de circus, 
en all so'ts er things fer ter take her 
min' off'n her troubles. But dey did n' 
none un *em do no good. Chloe got 
ter slippin' down here in de ebenin' des 
lack she 'uz comin' ter meet Jeff, en 
she 'd set dere unner dat wilier-tree on 
de udder side, en wait fer 'im, night atter 
night. Bimeby she got so bad de w'ite 
folks sont her ober ter young Mis' Ma'- 
g'ret's fer ter gib her a change ; but she 
runned erway de fus' night, en w'en dey 
looked fer 'er nex' mawnin', dey foun* 
her co'pse layin' in de branch yander, 
right 'cross fum whar we 're settin* 

Hot-Foot Han7iibal 225 

" Eber sence den," said Julius in con- 
clusion, ** Chloe's ha'nt comes eve'y eben- 
in' en sets down unner dat wilier-tree en 
waits fer Jeff, er e'se walks up en down 
de road yander, lookin' en lookin', en 
waitin' en waitin', fer her sweethea't w'at 
ain' neber, neber come back ter her no 

There was silence when the old man 
had finished, and I am sure I saw a tear 
in my wife's eye, and more than one in 

"I think, Julius," said my wife, after 
a moment, " that you may turn the mare 
around and go by the long road." 

The old man obeyed with alacrity, and 
I noticed no reluctance on the mare's 

" You are not afraid of Chloe's haunt, 
are you .? " I asked jocularly. 

My mood was not responded to, and 
neither of the ladies smiled. 

"Oh, no," said Annie, "but I've 

226 The Conjure Woniaii 

changed my mind. I prefer the other 

When we had reached the main road 
and had proceeded along it for a short 
distance, we met a cart driven by a young 
negro, and on the cart were a trunk and 
a valise. We recognized the man as 
Malcolm Murchison's servant, and drew 
up a moment to speak to him. 

" Who 's going away, Marshall } " I 

** Young Mistah Ma'colm gwine 'way 
on de boat ter Noo Yo'k dis ebenin', 
suh, en I 'm takin* his things down ter 
de wharf, suh." 

This was news to me, and I heard it 
with regret. My wife looked sorry, too, 
and I could see that Mabel was trying 
hard to hide her concern. 

" He 's comin' 'long behin', suh, en I 
'spec's you '11 meet 'im up de road a 
piece. He 's gwine ter walk down ez 
fur ez Mistah Jim Williams's, en take 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 227 

de buggy fum dere ter town. He 'spec's 
ter be gone a long time, suh, en say 
prob'ly he ain' neber comin' back." 

The man drove on. There were a 
few words exchanged in an undertone 
between my wife and Mabel, which I did 
not catch. Then Annie said : " Julius, 
you may stop the rockaway a moment. 
There are some trumpet-flowers by the 
road there that I want. Will you get 
them for me, John } " 

I sprang into the underbrush, and soon 
returned with a great bunch of scarlet 

" Where is Mabel .-* " I asked, noting 
her absence. 

" She has walked on ahead. We shall 
overtake her in a few minutes." 

The carriage had gone only a short 
distance when my wife discovered that 
she had dropped her fan. 

** I had it where we were stopping. 
Julius, will you go back and get it for 

228 The Conjure Woman 

Julius got down and went back for the 
fan. He was an unconscionably long 
time finding it. After we got started 
again we had gone only a little way, when 
we saw Mabel and young Murchison 
coming toward us. They were walking 
arm in arm, and their faces were aglow 
with the light of love. 

I do not know whether or not Julius 
had a previous understanding with Mal- 
colm Murchison by which he was to 
drive us round by the long road that 
day, nor do I know exactly what motive 
influenced the old man's exertions in 
the matter. He was fond of Mabel, 
but I was old enough, and knew Julius 
well enough, to be skeptical of his mo- 
tives. It is certain that a most excel- 
lent understanding existed between him 
and Murchison after the reconciliation, 
and that when the young people set up 
housekeeping over at the old Murchison 

Hot-Foot Hannibal 229 

place, Julius had an opportunity to enter 
their service. For some reason or other, 
however, he preferred to remain with us. 
The mare, I might add, was never known 
to balk again. 







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